A wharf cat gets a taste of life at sea.
Jim meets up with Old Tregarn at the harbor, raptly listening to his yarns about life as a ship’s cat. Hearing them, Jim insists he wants to go to sea too, so both cats sneak aboard a vessel that sails on the night tide. Once aboard, Jim learns that the maritime life takes some getting used to. Facing down rats in the hold, experiencing seasickness and bad weather, and climbing to the top of the mast are all part of Jim’s new life. Forward’s lyrical language flows off the tongue—“When the sea sucks back from the harbor wall and the sunlight strokes the cobbled streets”—and is rich in its evocation of the roll and swell of the ocean’s rhythm. Minimal dialogue attribution initially may cause readers some confusion about which cat is speaking, and these sections may have to be read twice. How much time has passed is also not completely clear, since the narrative reads, “The storms come…” followed on the page turn by, “After the storm…” leaving readers to wonder whether one event or many over a longer time period is indicated. Brown’s consummate paintings burst with sensory detail—the water sloshes, the lines fray, the wind whistles.
Gorgeous illustrations combine with the poetic language of the narrative to create a winsome journey. (Picture Book. 3-7)