The Story of Tantrum O’Furrily
Cressida Cowell and Mark Nicholas
Hodder Children’s Books
I’m anything but a lover of cats – they make me sneezy, wheezy and itchy-eyed but the ginger creature staring out from the cover of this book is totally irresistible and goes by the unlikely name of Tantrum O’Furrily.
What we have here is a story within a story and it all begins one wild and windy night with stray cat, Tantrum O’Furrily dancing across the rooftops with her three hungry little kittens and offering to tell them a story.
Slightly disappointed to learn that stories aren’t edible, they start to listen to their mother’s song. She tells of a small kitten; Smallpaw by name, a very pampered pet living with Mrs Worrykin who, when asked for a story responds that only stray cats – the robbers and fighters – are story cats.
One night Mrs Worrykin forgets to close the catflap and seeking adventure, Smallpaw pokes her head outside into the dark sniffing for a story of her own.
The fox she encounters is more than willing to oblige and begins his tale thus: “Once upon a time there was a delicious little kitten with fur as soft as butter, who was bored of being indoors…’
Recognising the similarities with her own story, Smallpaw is intrigued and allows herself be lured outside, bounding right up close to the foxy gentleman who, as foxes do, has his eye on the main chance.
Fortunately for her, there happens to be a stray cat on hand with tiger-like claws and tenacious teeth; she sees off the wily predator …
and gives Smallpaw some timely advice.
Smallpaw does return to her keeper but from then on, Mrs Worrykin always leaves the catflap open. The best of both worlds becomes the order of the day – and night – for, as that wise stray once said, ‘A cat with courage makes her own story.’
Beautifully told by wonderful weaver of words, Cressida Cowell whose modern fable is complemented by Carmelite Prize winning illustrator Mark Nicholas. His superbly smudgy scenes, executed with a minimal colour palette, detail the action with panache.