The story of Tantrum O'Furrily by Cressida Cowell
Ill. by Mark Nicholas. Hodder Children's Books, 2018. ISBN
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Themes: Cats. Survival. Stories. Cautionary tales. When Tantrum pads across the roofs in search of food with her three hungry kittens in tow, they ask for a story. So she tells them a story about Smallpaw, a pampered kitten living comfortably in a house where no stories are told. She has a lovely bed but each night after her tea, she presses her nose at the window and wonders what it is like outside. Mrs Worrykin, her owner, has told her that outside is full of dangerous stray cats, bad cats that fight with each other and with dogs. Smallpaw tries hard to be a good cat, but she is bored, so one night when the cat flap is left unlatched, she creeps outside. There a fox talks to her, encouraging her to take another step and hear his story. She comes closer until he leaps upon her telling her he will eat her. Suddenly another cat comes out of the gloom and fights off the fox. The stray cat tells her that she can write her own story, all it takes is courage.
After that Smallpaw is allowed outside and a saucer of milk is left for her, but she only drinks half, leaving some for the brave cat that saved her.
With that, Tantrum climbs down and shows her kittens the saucer of milk, half full, left for them.
This delightful fable of good and bad, a cautionary tale encouraging children to see beyond the words, would be a great read a loud, children joining in with the conversations between the fox and the cat, or between the cats when the kitten is rescued, and calling out when the fox attacks.
With the wonderfully ingenious illustrations washing across each page, the brush making sweeps of colour evoking movement, children will be entranced as they see the animals that make up the story and recognsie danger when they see it. This modern fable tells us all that being aware of the dangers is good, but these fears cannot rule our lives, it takes courage to take that first step.