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Antonia Barber is an award-winning writer of children's and adult fiction, including her bestselling picture book Catkin, illustrated by P. J. Lynch, and her adult novels, The Ghosts and The Ring in the Rough Stuff, both of which were shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal. Antonia divides her time between a converted oast house in Kent and a cosy harbourside cottage in the real Cornish village of Mousehole. Nicola Bayley, once shortlisted and twice commended for the Kate Greenaway medal, is perhaps best known for her loving, detailed depictions of cats, and has captured the hearts of her readers in titles such as The Necessary Cat, The Patchwork Cat, The Mousehole Cat, Katje the Windmill Cat and Rudyard Kipling's classic, The Jungle Book: Mowgli's Story. Nicola lives in London.
The quaint Cornish fishing village of Mousehole (pronounced ``Mowzel'') is the setting for this captivating story inspired by an old legend. A fierce winter storm sets in just before Christmas, and ``the cats and their people grow very hungry'' because the Great Storm-Cat won't let any fishing boats out of the harbor. Mowzer, a wise old cat, goes along to protect her ``pet''--Tom, a fisherman--when he decides to brave the elements to get food for the villagers. The clever Mowzer's sirenlike singing placates the Storm-Cat into letting Tom cast his nets, and her purring soothes the creature into letting them return home safely, where they find that the whole village has turned out with gleaming lanterns to welcome them. Brimming with character--and fetching characters--each of Bayley's glowing paintings is a gem, and her marine-themed borders are a crowning touch. Young readers will enjoy Barber's exemplary prose--by turns funny, dramatic and touching--for its cat's-eye perspectives and comforting resolution. To the ever-increasing gallery of memorable feline characters, Mousehole 's gifted creators have added two indelible portraits: canny, endearing Mowzer and the mythic Storm-Cat, shown looming out of the waves in moods ranging from fierce to gently playful. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)
In lilting and alliterative language, Barber tells the story of Mowzer the cat who saves a Cornish fishing village from starvation at Christmas. The Great Storm-Cat rages outside the snug little harbor and no boats can leave, so Mowzer agrees to accompany her own pet, the human fisherman old Tom, on a fishing venture ``for he was only a man. . . and men were like mice in the paws of the Great Storm-Cat.'' The story is cleverly told from the cat's point of view, with the oceanic Storm-Cat personified both in the text and in the blue-green swirls of Bayley's luminous paintings, which capture nuance, detail, motion, and emotion with energy and rhythm. Narrow bars decorated with sea motifs neatly frame the text in this elegant offering.
One of the best children's books I have read for years. * Sunday Independent * Quite perfect. * Eastern Daily Press *