Catvinkle and the missing tulips by Elliot Perlman

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Ill. by Laura Stitzel. Puffin Books, 2020. ISBN: 9781760894382.
(Age: 9-11) Recommended. This is the second book in the Catvinkle series, following The adventures of Catvinkle published in 2018 as Elliot Perlman's first children's novel. Although the characters are mostly the same, and there is some reference to what has happened previously, there is no need to have read the first book as this story can stand alone.
Catvinkle is a fluffy white cat who lives with her dalmatian friend Ula and their human. In this book they are called on to help two sheep accused of nibbling on Amsterdam's famous tulips.
The story is quite complex and involves assistance from a curious range of animals as well as travel to another country. The central question of what happened to the tulips keeps the reader guessing till the very end.
Throughout the story there are explicit lessons about empathy, fairness, inclusion, looking after the environment, telling the truth and doing whatever you can to stand up and speak up for others who are less fortunate.
There is a timely reminder, too, about stopping to think whether information can be trusted, especially if you hear something bad about someone. It covers the questions you should ask yourself to verify information and one of the animals clarifies "So just because someone says or even tweets something, doesn't mean it's true?" This is an excellent message for students to absorb before they reach the age where they really start engaging with social media.
Students who enjoy books with morals or messages will love this one.
The black and white illustrations by Melburnian Laura Stitzel are very sweet and do a great job of adding to this story.
Themes: Animals, Friendship, Fairness, Empathy, Environment.
Kylie Gran