By Alicia Potter Illustrated by Birgitta Sif
Published by Walker Books IBSN 9781406362381
Review by Priya Bual
With the help of my 8 year old cousin, we reviewed Miss Hazeltine’s Home for Shy and Fearful Cats, and surprisingly had matching opinions about the book. It tells the tale of Miss Hazeltine opening up her home to cats to help them overcome fears such as the dreaded broom, climbing and getting down from trees and being scared of birds! One cat is the most fearful of all, Crumb, yet when Miss Hazeltine needs help it is Crumb who leads the others into facing their fears and saving their beloved Miss Hazeltine.
The book is a loving story about conquering fears, ‘Hold your tails high! Arch your back! Think good thoughts!’ and shows the bond between pets and their owners. My little cousin thought ‘the book would not be suitable for children under 6 years old because I thought some of the sentences would be a bit hard for them to understand’ and I would agree. Miss Hazeltine’s Home is perfect for cat loving kids, unfortunately my cousin and myself are more dog people, therefore she thought that ‘there should have been more people in the story so then it’s not just mostly cats’, but that is just us being picky!
Birgitta Sif created beautiful illustrations to compliment the suspenseful storyline and the composition of the text. With the appearance of hand drawn illustrations, Sif has created detailed characters that you can connect with on each page. Her drawings are soft and sensitive to the story line, not overly bright and vibrant (as that might scare the cats). Keeping to darker shades, she successfully fills double page spreads creating an effective atmosphere. Sif’s spot illustrations also hold their own against a white background, making the colours appear bolder and elaborating the details in the characters more.
Miss Hazeltine’s Home for Shy and Fearful Cats is a perfect bedtime story, with the darker colours not overexciting children, yet the detail in the illustrations and story gripping them, as well as having a great moral to the story.
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