With a colorful layout and plentiful photographs, this nonfiction book for younger readers explores cats in history, from honored Egyptian animals through their wartime work to today’s lovable therapy cats.
Readers may be familiar with cat mummies and some of the various breeds, but MacLeod goes beyond common factoids to share more-surprising information: it was a crime to kill cats in ancient Egypt; much of Europe could have been spared the Black Death by cats; and stealthy felines detected hidden spy equipment during the Cold War. Each chapter begins with an imagined narrative—most are told from a cat’s perspective—that doesn’t match the straightforward nonfiction tone of the book. The chapters are related in short, choppy sections filled with many blurbs, sidebars, and callouts. While most of the side notes are interesting, in one busy chapter on lucky cats, they are actively disruptive and disorganized. Not all of the book’s featurettes are helpful, and some may actually confuse, as in an instance when not all cats pictured are described while some cats described are not pictured. Disappointingly, the book ends abruptly without a reflection on any of the incredible history or stories shared.
Even ailurophobes can appreciate the fascinating information about felines, provided they can get through the confusing layout and some unhelpful sidebars. (timeline, places to visit, sources, further reading, photo credits, index) (Nonfiction. 8-11)