At the weekend I was involved in an online discussion about books suitable for children in Year 3, aged about 7 or 8, and as luck would have have it the next book on my reading list fitted the bill perfectly. Toto the Ninja Cat and the Mystery Jewel Thief, the fourth book in a series, but easily read as a stand alone, is an exciting adventure accessible to newly confident readers and great fun for teachers and parents to read aloud too.
During the day Toto appears to be an ordinary cat, snoozing contentedly alongside her brother Silver in the London townhouse in which they live with their owners. But as night falls things change. Under the cover of darkness Toto is a Ninja Cat, keeping the streets safe from dastardly villains and righting wrongs alongside Silver and her newly adopted brother Socks, in this latest adventure. Our story begins with Toto and her friends looking after the visiting French ambassador whose tour of London culminates at the Tower of London to see the animal world’s most famous jewels, the sacred diamond cat collar. But horror of horrors the collar is missing and Toto’s friends, Larry the Downing Street cat and Cyril the Chief Raven are accused of the crime! Assisted by old friend Catface and other characters Toto, Silver and Socks are determined to clear their friends’ names and to find the missing collar.
This exciting story pelts along at a rapid pace with many unexpected developments and lots of humour along the way. I liked the warm tone of the narrative and the references to well known London landmarks both of which added to my enjoyment. This would be lovely to read aloud providing scope for “doing the voices” and building tension and emphasising the jokes. However newly confident readers would enjoy this too as the text is spaced out well with changes in typeface and the use of capitals providing a less overwhelming appearance for young children. The illustrations by Nick East are marvellous with plenty of detail to notice and discuss and picking up on the humour.
Among the many children’s books written by celebrities this series is rapidly becoming my favourite and I can understand why it has appeal for children. The theme of kindness and helpful friendship is evident throughout the jollity and excitement and we are safe in the knowledge that good will overcome evil at the end of it all. Even the villains are more pantomime than scary. This well presented book would make a great Christmas present too.
I should like to thank Fritha Lindqvist and Hodder Children’s Books for my review copy. Toto the Ninja Cat and the Mystery Jewel Thief was published in September and can be purchased online or at your independent book shop which can be found here. You may like to try the earlier books in the series too, the third of which is Toto the Ninja Cat and the Superstar Catastrophe