Saturday, December 26, 2015

Gobbolino the Witch's Cat, by Ursula Moray Williams

Staff review by Chris Saliba

Ursula Moray Williams' classic about a kitten experiencing a streak of bad luck will win your heart.

Poor Gobbolino. He’s a little black kitten with quite a few problems. Born in a witch’s cave, it is soon discovered that one of his paws is white. That will never do if you want to be a witch’s cat. It’s important to be all black. He also has beautiful blue eyes. This is another major problem. Witch’s cats always have green eyes. And to top it off, his coat isn’t pure black. There’s a hint of tabby in it. When Gobbolino’s sister Sootica lands herself an apprenticeship to a local witch, the little black kitten with one white sock decides to become a kitchen cat.

Things start off well enough for Gobbolino. He finds himself a home with a nice kitchen where  he can take up residence, but once the owners find out he’s actually a witch’s cat, fear and superstition kick in and Gobbolino has to hit the road again. Looking for a new home he has all sorts of different adventures (or more properly, misadventures). He stays at an orphanage and a mayor’s house. When these prospects fail, he becomes a show cat at a beauty pageant and even joins a ship’s crew and goes on a voyage. But everything always ends in disaster when it’s discovered he is a witch’s cat.

After many trials and tribulations, and what seems like endless trouble, Gobbolino finally has some good luck and all ends well.

Ursula Moray Williams’ Gobbolino the Witch’s Cat seems unique in literature: a picaresque novel with the central character being a kitten. The wayfaring Gobbolino has an endless run of bad luck and almost lives under a curse due to the circumstances of his birth. It’s impossible not to feel protective of the little kitten as he does his best to fit in and be given a decent break. Williams does an expert job of drawing out the sympathy of the reader, without the story becoming too cloying or sentimental. Gobbolino certainly is a special little fellow.  

A heartwarming, even inspiring tale (pardon the pun) of one kitten’s triumph over prejudice, adversity and ill fortune.

Gobbolino the Witch’s Cat, by Ursula Moray Williams. Published by Puffin. ISBN:  9780141354897 RRP: $14.99

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