Charles Dickens for 5-year olds in a Christmas cat and mouse story.
It’s Christmas Eve and everyone’s leaving the department store to celebrate Christmas. Everyone, that is, except from Clawdia the cat. While the rest of the staff will be celebrating the festive season, she will be working. She will be busy keeping the mice out of the store and won’t have any time to waste with silly Christmas celebrations. The mice, however, are determined to show Clawdia the true meaning of Christmas. It takes a while but Clawdia learns just in time to appreciate a special seasonal surprise.
As you will have gathered from the brief summary above – and, indeed, from the title – A Cat’s Christmas Carol does not tell a particularly original story. In fact, it’s deliberately derived from the Charles Dicken’s novel. It is, however, clever how the essence of the story has been distilled to a level that young children can easily understand.
The text itself is simply and easy to follow and children are likely to enjoy the occasional use of rhyme as Clawdia chases the mice through the various departments in the store. I especially like the scenes in the Toy Department when she’s: ‘Ducking and diving, dodging and driving!’ past a toy train driven by one of the mice and dashing ‘Past diggers and rockets and pets-for-your-pocket. Round dragons and knights, then snowmen and lights…’
The pictures are appealing with a good pace and variety. Clawdia’s expressions are an absolute treat – from scowling at the mice when they first arrive, to determination as she chases them, to a sly look of triumph when she thinks she has them cornered. My favourite has to the look of surprise on Clawdia’s face when her feet slip into a pair of shoes in the Clothes Department and, lower on the same page, when a large straw hat lands on her head.
The pictures are packed with detail, making this a book that young readers will be happy to read again and again. In the same way that I loved the Richard Scary books as a child, I suspect young readers will enjoy trying to spot the mice as they find increasingly ingenious places to hide.
If you’re looking for another Christmas picture book, why not try A Very Corgi Christmas by Sam Hay and Loretta Schauer or Madge Eekal’s Christmas by Colleen and Zed Jacey.