An appealing, humorous introduction to a legendary hotel through a cat’s eyes.

Matilda The Algonquin Cat

In Martini’s debut children’s book, illustrated by Mongiardo (Cosmo’s Crave and Guppy Gall, 2012), a cat tells her story of her life at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City.

Ever since 1932, when a stray cat took up residence in the famous Algonquin Hotel, there has always been a “resident feline” there. Actor John Barrymore named the first one “Hamlet,” and ever since, all the Algonquin’s male cats have had that name, and the females, for unknown reasons, have all been named “Matilda.” Here, the most recent Matilda speaks for herself and tells her story. (Matilda is based on a real cat, but the Algonquin staffers in the book are wholly fictional.) As any good cat would be, Matilda is entirely pleased with her situation: she lives in a hotel “which is in the center of New York City, which is in the center of the world which means that I am in the center of it all,” she says. When visitors arrive, “I greet them by saying, ‘Welcome to my castle—I am your queen.’ ” She goes on to introduce readers to her underlings, including the doorman, concierge, manager, and her personal assistant Hadley (an homage to real-life caretaker Alice De Almeida). Readers learn of Matilda’s daily routine around the hotel, accompanied by Mongiardo’s lively line drawings, which often supply wry, silent commentary. For example, when Matilda says, “I ensure that our guests enjoy themselves,” the illustration shows a dismayed guest dropping his martini as the cat jumps into his lap. Special events include Matilda’s birthday party, featuring cake and a fashion show (on a catwalk, of course). The feline also describes some of the history of the Algonquin and its famous Round Table of writers and actors. Overall, Martini’s text and Mongiardo’s illustrations capture the particular charm of cats well and nicely evoke Matilda’s big personality and her expectation of worship. Young readers may also enjoy learning something about what goes on in big hotels, such as how a doorman does his job and how a concierge helps guests. The book also offers additional pages (“About the Algonquin Hotel” and “About the Algonquin Cat”) that give useful background on the hotel’s history, the Algonquin cat tradition, and how children may connect with Matilda online.

An appealing, humorous introduction to a legendary hotel through a cat’s eyes.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-942545-44-6

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

MORNING GIRL

Like the quiet lap of waves on the sand, the alternating introspections of two Bahamian island children in 1492. Morning Girl and her brother Star Boy are very different: she loves the hush of pre-dawn while he revels in night skies, noise, wind. In many ways they are antagonists, each too young and subjective to understand the other's perspective—in contrast to their mother's appreciation for her brother. In the course of these taut chapters concerning such pivotal events as their mother's losing a child, the arrival of a hurricane, or Star Boy's earning the right to his adult name, they grow closer. In the last, Morning Girl greets— with cordial innocence—a boat full of visitors, unaware that her beautifully balanced and textured life is about to be catalogued as ``very poor in everything,'' her island conquered by Europeans. This paradise is so intensely and believably imagined that the epilogue, quoted from Columbus's diary, sickens with its ominous significance. Subtly, Dorris draws parallels between the timeless chafings of sibs set on changing each other's temperaments and the intrusions of states questing new territory. Saddening, compelling—a novel to be cherished for its compassion and humanity. (Fiction. 8+)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 1992

ISBN: 1-56282-284-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1992

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

THE NAME JAR

Unhei has just left her Korean homeland and come to America with her parents. As she rides the school bus toward her first day of school, she remembers the farewell at the airport in Korea and examines the treasured gift her grandmother gave her: a small red pouch containing a wooden block on which Unhei’s name is carved. Unhei is ashamed when the children on the bus find her name difficult to pronounce and ridicule it. Lesson learned, she declines to tell her name to anyone else and instead offers, “Um, I haven’t picked one yet. But I’ll let you know next week.” Her classmates write suggested names on slips of paper and place them in a jar. One student, Joey, takes a particular liking to Unhei and sees the beauty in her special stamp. When the day arrives for Unhei to announce her chosen name, she discovers how much Joey has helped. Choi (Earthquake, see below, etc.) draws from her own experience, interweaving several issues into this touching account and delicately addressing the challenges of assimilation. The paintings are done in creamy, earth-tone oils and augment the story nicely. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 10, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-80613-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more