As a cat enthusiast, how could I not leap at the chance to review a book like Fearless Felines? Within its covers is a wealth of felines from around the world who have done marvelous things, from feats of courage to giving hope to small towns. Truly inspiring, some of these stories were entirely new to me and I am pleased to be able to share my thoughts today on Kimberlie Hamilton’s new book: Fearless Felines: 30 True Tales of Courageous Cats.
Thank you to Scholastic Inc. for sending me a copy of this book to review.
Published: 5 November 2019
Publisher: Scholastic Press
From World War II London to outer space, meet the coolest cats in history in a colorful illustrated compendium of famous felines and cat facts.
Drawing from the thrilling lives of more than 30 adorable cats throughout history, Kimberlie Hamilton retells the fascinating tales of cats through the centuries. Meet Mrs. Chippy, a cat who joined a daring ocean journey to Antarctica, or Simon, the only cat to receive a medal for wartime bravery, and dozens more. Filled with colorful depictions of each cat and feline facts throughout, this is the perfect gift for cat and history lovers alike.
Implied animal testing/animal death
The format of the book was pleasing and kept my interest as a reader. The 30 courageous felines were featured as promised; interspersed between their entries were smaller features that were just as fascinating.
These smaller entries included cats may have shared a common thread with the previous entry. For example: the Courageous story of Faith, a cat whose insistence on staying in a church basement saved her and her kitten’s lives, was followed by a listicle of other cats who were seemingly possessed of a preternatural sense (one cat “knew” when his owner died, another seemingly predicted an avalanche).
Other interspersed pages featured tips such as How To Tell If A Cat Loves You, How To Help Cats In Need, Feline Entrepurr-neurs, and more.
The various art styles were all very nice and went so well together. The work of 17 different artists, their individual styles complemented the portions of the book that they worked on while also working with the styles of their neighbors.
Thank you to all the illustrators!
Allie Runnion, Andrew Gardner, Becky Davies, Charlotte Archer,
Emma Jayne, Holly Sterling, Hui Skipp, Jessica Smith, Katie Wilson,
Lily Rossiter, Michelle Hird, Nan Lawson, Olivia Holden, Rachel Allsop,
Rachel Sanson, Bonnie Pang, Sam Loman.
I loved the end of the book where, gathered together, were the titles of the books mentioned within for further reading on these fascinating felines. I have read Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicky Myron (yes! Dewey was featured in Fearless Felines!) and hope to read more from this list. There are also select websites with information about cats, cruelty prevention, and dedicated sites for featured felines.
There were some parts of the book where I felt conflicted. There were the 30 distinct entries, of course, and aside from that there were listicles between the entries within which more cats were mentioned. This is all to bring up the entries I’m referencing.
One being Milo of The Adventures of Milo and Otis film fame/infamy. The first issue is that the entry misgenders Milo (female used in place of male) and also the entry saying that, because the film has no humans appearing in it, that that makes it worth seeing. While normally I’d agree on that point, the animal cruelty allegations and murky issues surrounding the film make me question why this particular entry’s inclusion.
Another entry, this one a feature one including illustration, was that of Felicette, a street cat from France that was sent into space as part of the Space Race in the 1960’s. While it sounds impressive that she was the first cat to go to and survive her journey into space, the cavalier way the author describes her fate upon her return made me uncomfortable.
“Scientists were eager to see if Felicette’s brain had changed in any way during her history-making voyage, which included five minutes of fur-raising weightlessness.
They learned a great deal…”
The implied animal testing was, as I said, discomforting, particularly once I looked up what actually happened to Felicette both during her journey and afterwards.
Edit (16.7.19): the author does include a note in the book during Felicette’s entry that is of import here. My apologies for not including it in the original review:
“There’s no longer much reason to send cats, dogs and primates into space and many believe it is unethical to do so. Being launched into space isn’t exactly a pleasant experience, and unlike human astronauts, animals have no say in the matter. That’s why it’s so important to remember and honor Felicette for all that she sacrificed in the name of science.”
It was a lot of fun to hear familiar stories about my favorite historical felines. It was that and more to discover new tales from around the world, from cats that “danced” ballet to ones that travelled hundreds of miles to be reunited with their families to cats that accomplished so much more. Cats as a species have depths of incalculable depths and I don’t think we’ll ever stop learning from them.
Sharing their stories can be funny, can be enjoyable, educational, at times worrisome, but hopefully we can take what we learn and make sure we’re worthy of the devotion and intelligence of cats by taking care of their lives and their stories.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Quotes included are from an advanced reader copy and may not reflect the finalized copy.
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