A rhyming debut picture book explores the average day of a cat who lives on a boat in London.
Fernando, whose paws have “thumbs,” is a black barge cat. He lives on a sailboat sporting bright red sails that travels up and down the Thames River. Mangal (Seed School, 2018, etc.) populates the illustrations’ backgrounds with British icons, such as the London Bridge, giving a condensed sense of place. Though notes at the end reveal that Thames barges like Fernando’s are no longer used for cargo, the cat’s boat carries sugar, coal, and hay upriver. A bearded skipper and a younger-looking mate, both white, offer Fernando scraps of traditional foods like pie and mash. Sometimes the feline lies in the sun; other times, he climbs up to the topsail. Peppered with terms that will give young readers a taste of a nautical vocabulary (hold, leeboards, forestay, bob), Samuels’ rhyming text is short and accessible, with the delightful cartoon images providing the necessary clues for unfamiliar words. Green-eyed Fernando is a charmer, and kids are likely to wonder when they can go sailing on a ship like the cat’s. A diagram of the boat serves as a coloring page at the book’s end.
While there’s no plot to speak of, this engaging tale paints a kid-friendly portrait of the joys of life on the Thames.