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This book is not uplifting


I'm a Librarian, so there is a high statistical probability that I am also a cat lover (yep, it's true).  I gravitate towards cat themed stories with the same level of uncanny intuition that primary school girls have for horse and pony stories.  It's a gift.

When one of my colleagues suggested we obtain The Cat with the Coloured Tail, I naturally thought it was a fabulous idea.  It arrived a couple of weeks ago and has already been borrowed once; when I put it back on display I was reminded that I should really take it home and read it one evening.

And then Gillian Mears died.

Gillian Mears - Sydney Morning Herald

I knew of Gillian Mears; you can't be a Librarian and not know of Foals Bread, and I have The Grass Sister sitting on my bookshelf downstairs.  But I had not yet delved into her children's fiction, and so on the news of her passing I felt it was time to read what was to be the final fruits of her literary life.

The Cat with the Coloured Tail is beautifully written and beautifully illustrated.  You really can't ask for more than that in a children's book.  The story follows the gentle ramblings of Mr. Hooper and the Cat with the Coloured Tail, who travel across the land in their "Moon Cream" truck.  The tiny cat and his coloured tail can sense those in need of love and hope, and he directs Mr. Hooper to the next customer in need of a nourishing serve of their favourite moon cream in their favourite colour.  The story takes a dark turn though, when the cat detects a larger sadness that cannot be so easily fixed.  For me, it was a story tinged with an subtle melancholy right from the first few pages.  I'm not sure if this was due to the narrative, or because I was overshadowed by the thought of the author's passing.  It does however finish on a positive note, but I still felt touched by the underlying message on the state of the world.

I dunno, maybe this isn't the best review for a children's book to put out there - these books are supposed to be happy and uplifting and give the kiddies a positive message of the world!  And don't get me wrong the story does conclude with a happy demonstration of the redemptive power of love and caring - I do encourage you to read it for yourself.  Maybe my reaction is just a personal one.  But then I guess that's the power of the written word.


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