Macavity the Mystery Cat
T. S. Eliot
Faber & Faber, 2014
hbk., RRP $A22.99
In 1939, T.S. Eliot wrote his iconic Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats which became the foundation for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Cats. Within that collection, is a poem which begins
Macavity’s a mystery cat
He’s called the Hidden Paw…
It’s a tale that stays in your head forever and begs to be shared with others, read aloud with its rhyme and rhythm savoured as they roll off the tongue. So when I read this 75th anniversary edition to a group of six-year-olds, I was not surprised that they loved it and begged to hear it again. They didn’t need to know the exact meanings of some of the phrases to enjoy it and understand that here was a cat of most devious tricks who is also a master of disguise and alias-building. They used words like “cunning” and “mischievous” and “naughty” to describe him showing that Arthur Robins has illustrated it perfectly to underscore the concepts of “a fiend in feline shape” and “a master of depravity”. They then delighted in sharing their own stories of the dastardly deeds their own cats have got up to, and what was going to be a five-minute-filler when I popped it in my bag for the day became a fun-filled thirty minute sharing session!
Yet, at the other end of the scale, it’s just as much fun for older readers and a group of Year 6 students had great delight in exploring the language choices and appreciating how such a complete story with its come-to-life description can be told in just 400 words, proving that great writing transcends all age groups!
Definitely one to put in your collection and promote!