The Adventures of Catvinkle (Elliot Perlman, Puffin)
It’s hard to imagine that a book for children by two-time Miles Franklin-shortlisted author Elliot Perlman would be anything less than wonderful. Perlman was apparently inspired by a cat lying in a window in Amsterdam and started telling a story to his then-four-year-old niece, who kept reminding him that he ought to write it down. The story that has evolved years later is a charming and whimsical tale of a pampered Amsterdam cat, Catvinkle, who meets an adorable buffoon of a Dalmatian, Ula, and the friendship and appreciation that develops between the unlikely pair. This chapter book is broken up into several narrative chunks, interspersed with lovely simple illustrations, making it an approachable read. Catvinkle and Ula go on adventures, problem-solve and learn together. Along the way, the pair meet a delightful cast of other characters: Mr Sabatini, the barber; ‘Lobbus the brave dog Lobbus’; and Roy Llama, among others. There are gentle lessons in here about empathy, bravery and friendship, but it’s also simply a delightful and easy-to-read story with laugh-out-loud dialogue that doesn’t talk down to its readers. Although the book is aimed at nine- to eleven-year-olds, parents will enjoy reading this book with younger children too.
Hannah Cartmel is an editor and co-founder of The Rag & Bone Man Press and Little Barrow Press.