To Be a Cat by Matt Haig
Corgi (a division of Random House) - Children's Fantasy/Middle Reader
From the cover:
What if I told you that tomorrow you'd wake up as a cat? That's right. You heard me. A cat. Whiskers, fur, four paws, a tail -- the real deal. You might not believe me. But really, you should be thanking me. Most people don't have any kind of warning, you see. It comes as a complete shock to them. It came as a shock to Barney Willow.
My little synopsis:
Barney Willow isn't very confident. The kids pick on him at school and the head teacher seems to have a vendetta against him, though he can't say why. His parents are divorced and his father has disappeared. The only real light in his life is his best friend, Rissa.
What Barney doesn't realize is that cats are magic. And, when you wish to be a cat, you can trade places with one. After Barney becomes a cat, he discovers something much more sinister is going on than just a simple magic bit of switcheroo. Can Barney stay alive long enough to become human, again?
Best opening, ever:
Here is a secret I shouldn't really tell you, but I will because I just can't help it. It's too big. Too good. OK, sit down, get ready, brace yourself, have some emergency chocolate handy. Squeeze a big cushion. Here it is:
Cats are magic.
The first chapter had me laughing out loud and it stays funny but it's equal parts humorous and creepy. As books for young readers go, To Be a Cat is awfully entertaining. I read it in two big gulps. Matt Haig has a delicious sense of humor and the story is unique enough to keep surprising even an adult.
Highly recommended - A delightful story with a likable young hero, a quirky sidekick, a nicely sinister arch enemy and a clever storyline. I learned about Matt Haig via Twitter (where he is one of my tweeps) and decided to start with a children's book about a cat for obvious reasons (Crazy Cat Lady alert).
Good choice and now I'm anxious to read The Humans, Haig's latest adult novel. In fact, I regret not picking up a copy in London. It has a beautiful British cover but the American cover is hideous. I can't imagine why they went with that image. Wait, I'll show you:
American cover at left.
British cover at right.
Colorful vs. . . . what? Were they going for "striking"? A gorgeous, colorful cover is much more likely to grab my attention. I came perilously close to buying it but restrained myself because it was a hardback and I try to shoot for buying only paperbacks when I travel. But, now I really want a copy. I'm just going to have to go back to London. That's all there is to it.
I purchased my copy of To Be a Cat at Foyle's (the flagship store on Charing Cross Road -- go there if you're ever in London; you'll love it).
Also, if you have experienced depression or know someone who is suffering, you must read Matt Haig's "Reasons to Stay Alive", which is very inspiring.
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