Review Blog

May 22 2017

The Blue Cat by Ursula Dubosarsky

cover image

Allen and Unwin, 2017. ISBN 9781760292294
(Age: 11-14) Recommended. Themes: World War II; Childhood; Mystery; Australian War History. The Blue Cat is an interesting novelised confluence with the historical investigation of childhood life in Sydney during the time of war-time attacks on Australia, combined with some primary sources of the time and an ethereal mystery. Just as the blue cat seems to live a life of its own, the novel weaves between the 'legs' of the historical sources and the innocence of the main character, Columba and her friend Hilda. They encounter a rather unusual character, Ellery, who attends their school but is mysterious and isolated from them because he only seems to speak German. To some extent Dubosarsky has created a faintly mysterious and strange attempt to create understanding between children from both sides of the conflict. The dream-like finale may add a degree of confusion for a young reader, but a slightly older reader may be able to see the potential for interpretation. The voice of Columba has a delicate naive quality (akin to the narrator in John Boyne's The Boy in Striped Pyjamas, but perhaps with more understanding), but the enigmatic influence of the aloof and voiceless Ellery adds a degree of sophistication to the story-line. Is he real or just a reminder of those who suffer because of war? Initially this appears to be a book for younger readers - the youthful naive quality supports this - but because it is not straightforward in its resolution this makes the recommended reader slightly older.
Recommended for the thoughtful reader aged 11 - 14 years.
Carolyn Hull

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