Two children help their pet cat solve a mystery in this short, middle-grade first installment of a series.
Johnstone takes readers to a land known as Cat City. One night, sister and brother Amy and James decide to follow their cat, Kiwi, but they’re in for a surprise when they learn that Kiwi can talk. Kiwi transforms them into kittens and takes them with her to Cat City. Kiwi is called upon to help Inspector Furrball solve a series of catnappings that have occurred in the feline-filled city. While Amy and James (now Ames and Jimster) struggle to adapt to cat behavior, including licking their own fur, Kiwi investigates Catskins Limited, a company that makes biscuits and seems to be linked to the catnappings. Furrball asks his nephew, the bumbling, oafish Paws, to assist the trio, though he proves useless. The break in the case comes when Kiwi and Furrball discover that the Catskins delivery to Cat Crime has a false bottom that contains some mysterious contents. Kiwi, with help from Amy and James, tracks the catnapped catizens, but more treachery ensues. Though the book is a mystery, the bloodshed-free crime means that the book is safe enough for younger readers to enjoy, and funny moments—provided by the bumbling Paws and lots of “cat” wordplay—keep the story light. The sleuthing will captivate young readers, although the ending, which allows for a sequel, is disappointingly inconclusive. For example, readers never learn what was hidden beneath the false bottom of the Catskins box or about Dev’s background, the criminal mastermind. Nor do we get to see what happens when Amy and James return to their old human forms.
Cats, a dash of fantasy, and a puzzling mystery are a recipe for a fun read despite an abrupt and unsatisfying ending.