Friday, January 29, 2021

The Cat Who Came in Off the Roof

The Cat Who Came In off the Roof / Annie M.G. Schmidt
trans. from the Dutch by David Colmer
NY: Yearling, 2017, c1970.
149 p.

I picked up this charming little book from my library late last year, when I was looking for translated children's books for a list I was sharing. It's adorable and I loved it! 

I hadn't known of Annie M.G. Schmidt previously, but was informed that she is a classic Dutch author, like the Astrid Lindgren of the Netherlands. This book was first published in 1970 so it has some bits that might seem a little unusual now, especially when it comes to mothering skills, but overall it holds up extremely well. 

Mr. Tibble is a meek journalist who is in danger of losing his job because most of his stories are about cats. His editor tells him to write something a little more hard-hitting, but he's not sure how. Then he rescues Miss Minou, a young woman who has dashed up a tree to avoid some dogs and can't get down. 

Miss Minou has a strange connection to the various cats in Mr. Tibble's neighbourhood, and since cats are everywhere and hear everything, she finds juicy gossip to pass on to him as payback for his allowing her to stay in his apartment. His career as a journalist is on the rise! 

You will not be surprised to hear that Miss Minou has a deep, dark secret, and that Mr. Tibble's love for cats is a Very Good Thing here. There is a fair mix of humour here, both light and darker, and great set pieces highlighting various characters, whether human or feline. I wouldn't recommend it for really young children, but as an older middle grade novel it's fine, and definitely has much to be appreciated by adult readers. 

If you're also a cat lover and looking for a brief, entertaining read in translation, see if you can get your hands on this one. Charm, humour, cats, and a bit of snark. Fun reading experience!

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