A cat with albinism traipses in and out of some of early-20th-century North America’s landmark moments.
From an Ontario farm, Pudding Tat makes his way to the bottom of Niagara Falls via barrel; to Buffalo via rail, where he attends the Pan-American Exposition; to New York City via motorcar, where he lives with the lyricist of “In My Merry Oldsmobile”; to the airship America as it attempts the first trans-Atlantic flight in history; to London via steamship before he heads back to North America on…the Titanic. This Forrest Gump of a cat is accompanied by an unnamed, irascible flea who acts as the cat’s guide, compensating for his vision impairment. The flea’s character arc from parasite to companion provides most of the book’s emotional verve, as Pudding, though he ostensibly seeks adventure, has less an adventurous spirit than an amiable one and seems happy to go where Adderson and the flea direct him. Characters are assumed white; even railroad porter Asa is not identified racially, thoroughly undercutting the poignancy of his insistence on being called by his name for readers who do not bring pre-existing knowledge of the history of the all-black corps of Pullman porters to the text (or read the concluding author’s note before they read the book).
Lovers of animal fantasy drawn to the book will find themselves taking in some history they likely never would have thought themselves interested in before. (Historical fantasy. 8-12)