Matilda Webb


(July 10, 2008)
Matilda Webb ill. Ian Benfold Haywood
Happy Cat
Jun 2008
The poetic diction of the book's opening immediately locates the microcosm of the lilting ebb and flow of sea sounds and of the various comings and goings of lives lived along the harbour lines. At the heart of the book lies a nameless and homeless kitten whose desire for a place amongst peers forms the premise for the book.
Strengths are the deft descriptions of the harbour and its various component parts, these are explored from the minutiae of fish schools, swimming and circling in the surrounding seas, to the domineering image of the cruiser which comes to dock. The polarity of these extremes is captured adeptly in Ian Benford Haywood's illustrations which evoke, the various movements and motion of the sea.
The novel's evocation of the haughty, proud manner and demeanour of the cats inhabiting the various vessels humorously references the archetypes of sea-life. Implicit in these are feline character traits that will instantly provoke an affinity amongst any and all cat-lovers.
Searching for a home to call her own, the cat's tale is one that is appealing and resonant to all who have considered, even in the vaguest terms, their identity and role in society. A satisfying resolve is marred only, perhaps, by the implausibility of its practicality, but these are small faults in a book that encapsulates a whole world, way of life and method for working out our positions alongside that of others...


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