The cat who liked rain by Henning Mankell
Andersen Press, 2008.
(Ages 6+) This engaging short novel can be read on so many different levels. For an adult it is a portrait of loss and resilience. For a young child it is the story of Lukas who is given a cat for his seventh birthday and has not realised until now how it feels to fall in love. Lukas christens his black cat Night and decides to teach him how to hiss at his annoying big brother Markus. Lukas falls into a pattern of playing with his cat and looking after its every need until disaster strikes and Night disappears.
Better known for his gripping and dour adult thrillers, this is a new side to Mankell, and he explores Lukas's shock and grief at Night's disappearance with humour and tenderness. He certainly knows children and every young child will be able to relate to Lukas's struggle to come to terms with the first real loss he has ever experienced in his young life.
There are no easy answers or cosy reunions in this story. But Lukas is helped by his father who paints an imaginative picture of Night's possible whereabouts. Translated from the Swedish, the language is occasionally clumsy, but this is an endearing tale of family life which does not shy away from the realities of sibling rivalry, anxious, overtired parents and a little boy on a mission to find his lost cat. An excellent story that will help young children understand and cope with grief and loss.