Monday, 25 November 2013

Guest Review: Atticus Claw Breaks the Law by Jennifer Gray

Today on The Book Zone, as part of U14s Only Month, we are joined by Jenni (aka @JuniperJungle on Twitter). Jenni runs the fab Juniper's Jungle blog, works with kids as  Beaver leader and is also currently studying to be a librarian. Jenni wanted to write a review about a book she had recently and loved. It is a book that has been sitting on my own TBR pile for some time, but always gets overlooked as like Jenni I have never been a fan of talking animal stories. Based on Jenni's glowing review, I may now have to overlook this general dislike and give Atticus Claw a chance. Thanks Jenni for taking the time to write this for us!

Meet Atticus Grammatticus Cattypus Claw, the world's greatest cat burglar. He's a tabby who spells trouble. And he's been hired by the fiendish Jimmy Magpie to steal all the jewels in Littleton-on-Sea.

Atticus needs a temporary home - preferably one with lots of sardines provided. But when he adopts Inspector Cheddar and his family, Atticus starts to wonder, is a life of crime really for him?

When I was a child I read pretty much anything, but with only a handful of exceptions stories with talking animals did not please me. I'm so pleased I've left this particular reading quirk behind - I wouldn't want to think I might have missed out on reading this gem of a book.

Atticus Claw Breaks the Law is full of talking animals, and mighty fine talking animals they are. Well, Atticus Claw is mighty fine, the dreadful gang of magpies are downright villains that reminded me of the hyenas in The Lion King on more than one occasion. Regardless of whether they're on the side of right or wrong the animal characters in this book are all well created, vivid characters. 

The humans in the book are equally strong creations, the Cheddar family with Mrs Tucker the tall-tale telling childminder leap off the page - I frequently found myself imagining that I was sitting at their kitchen table with them, watching the events of the story unfold. The humans that made me laugh the most though were Lord and Lady Tofty, a pair of Hyacinth Bucket style aristocrats. They are ludicrous and caricatureish but in the best possible way.

The main storyline of Atticus being hired by the magpies to act out their revenge on the humans is well thought out and believable, the motivations of the characters are clear and understandable even when the double crossing begins. This plays neatly with the sub plot lines of Inspector Cheddar wanting to prove himself as a policeman and Mrs Cheddar trying to organise a tv antiques valuation day - you can start to see how the plotlines are going to twist around one another and the eventual payoff is incredibly satisfying.

There is loads of humour in this book, in addition to the obvious laugh out loud moments there are many instances of wordplay that left me absolutely delighted. I think this book would work really well as a read aloud book, both to a group of children or on a more individual basis. It has broad appeal, there is something for everyone to enjoy, and best of all it's the first in a series so there are plenty more adventures to look forward to (there are 3 so far with more to come).

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