Illustrated by Jez Alborough
Cover illustration by Jon Goodell
Crown Books for Young Readers, 2001, 1988
From the back of the book: “Martin’s not like all the other kittens on the farm: he doesn’t eat mice. In fact, he thinks they’re adorable and keeps them as pets in the old bathtub in the loft. He visits them, feeds them, and does everything he can to protect them from his mouse-hunting family. But Martin’s in for a shock: his mice run away! Why would they ever leave their safe bathtub? It’s not until Martin himself is imprisoned as a pet that he learns the true meaning of freedom—and friendship.”
Poor Martin! He actually throws up when he is forced by his mother to eat a mouse! His brother and sister harangue him mercilessly because he won’t eat mice; his mother berates him because he won’t eat mice. But Martin doesn’t care! He has a positive attitude and learns to avoid his family when he can. He does show growth – he learns to stand up for himself and, as the publishers said, learns how important it is for wild things to be free.
I enjoyed reading the book – the story itself is an interesting concept and the important characters are developed well for a children’s book; we never know the names of the humans (other than ‘the farmer’, ‘the farmer’s wife’, and ‘the girl’) because they are just background characters. The real action is in the barnyard and all its inhabitants. The copy I have is discarded library book and the print is a good size for elementary-aged readers. If you can find a copy and you like cat books, you might consider adding it to your own library.
Rating 4 out of 5 paws – Martin is a lovable character;the story encourages positive morals, and to have compassion for others who are not like you.