Tag Archives: Gwen Millward

Flat Cat

Flat Cat
Hiawyn Oram and Gwen Millward
Walker Books

Pampered puss Jimi-My-Jim, living a seemingly idyllic life with Sophie in a flat at the top of a tall block, does his very best to show his appreciation. As a result Sophie has no idea that her pet longs to be a part of the outside world.

When Sophie and her parents leave home each day why, you might wonder, does he merely sit at the window watching life go by? I certainly did.

Little by little his pampered, prison-like existence takes its toll: the creature begins to flatten out until he looks utterly two dimensional – he’s become, in the style of Jeff Brown’s human boy hero Stanley, a FLAT CAT.

Then one day, Sophie and her Mum leave him alone. Now here I anticipated Jimi sliding under the door, but no. In their haste, the two forget the keys giving him the perfect opportunity to take action. He dons his coat, grabs the keys, does a spot of climbing and exits onto the street, destination another feline he’s had his eye on.

Streetwise Blanche introduces herself and offers to show Jimi around. Together they explore the city;

Blanche takes Jimi to meet all her feline friends and a few canine ones as well; but  evening comes all too soon and Jimi doesn’t want to say farewell.

Instead he invites his new friends home and even thows a party for them.

What on earth will Sophie and her parents do when they return? Could it be the end for Jimi’s forays into the big wide world?
Let’s just say it’s a happy ending and not just for the main protagonist …

I’ve always been a rule-breaker so thoroughly enjoyed Hiawyn’s tale of freedom, adventure and friendship, feline style. Gwen Millward’s distinctive naive, flat cartoon illustrations are a purr-fect portrayal of Jimi’s jaunts and underscore the message that freedom, love and friendship not material things are what make people happy.

New Pet Arrivals

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Rosie’s Special Present
Myfanwy Millward and Gwen Millward
Jonathan Cape
It’s Rosie’s birthday and she’s eagerly anticipating a very special present. Said present meanwhile is having a crisis of confidence from within its wrapping. Suppose all the other gifts look more exciting, will it be overshadowed? What if its owner is a princess or a trapeze artist, a pirate with a squawking parrot even?
As Rosie and her pals party in one room,

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the present has managed, after considerable effort, to get out of its box to investigate the opposition.

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Satisfied that its own wrapping out-sparkles the others, another troubling thought arrives – suppose, despite its superior exterior, Rosie feels disappointed at its contents. So, to counter this, the present climbs up the bookcase and, as the birthday tea is reaching its conclusion in the room next door, the over-anxious gift has wrapped itself in bunting, ribbons and more and crash-landed onto the carpet.

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Thereupon in dashes Rosie and a new friendship is immediately forged…
Winsome characters and an unusual perspective angle on the birthday theme make this a delight to share with young listeners whether or not they are celebrating a birthday: friendship is worth celebrating at any time. Illustrator Gwen’s portrayal of the ‘special present’ – that picture of it clinging desperately to the bunting – is a hoot.

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A delightful joint enterprise from the Millward sisters.

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Lara of Newtown
Chris McKimmie
Allen & Unwin
I’m a real fan of Chris McKimmie’s wonderfully quirky illustrative style and this book wherein Misty/Nigella/Lara seeks a permanent home charmed even cat phobic me.
When we join our feline narrator, she has just been let go by her first owner who has become too old to continue caring for her moggy, and Misty is wandering the streets looking for a new home. Eventually she becomes a Christmas present for one Noni Nice of Pymble where she gets her second name and little else before being shown the door.
There follows a night under the stars for Nigella and then along come the Kafoopses,

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an eccentric couple who are more than happy to add ‘Lara’ to their household residents. From then on life becomes more than satisfactory in every way.
Lara can even do her own entertaining from time to time …

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though on occasions when the Kafoopses have visitors, she finds an alternative place for a retreat. But now she is in her own words “a lucky boots”, loved at last.
Cat owners may well be horrified at the treatment of the long-suffering feline protagonist but despite the two abandonments, this is a story where hope and kindness win through. Chris McKimmie’s collage style is like no other and combined with the array of fonts make for a unique visual narrative whole.

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I Love My Puppy
Giles Andreae and Emma Dodd
Orchard Books
The small boy narrator of the latest Andreae/Dodd offering is the recipient of a new pet – a cute pup. Everything has been made ready for his arrival …

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but even so the little chap is a bit shy initially. It doesn’t take long for the pup to settle in though: he’s playful and affectionate but rather too eager to nibble at things that he really shouldn’t

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and of course, has still to be housetrained. A walk in the park is lots of fun and just the place to try out his bark

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before heading home for a snuggle with his diminutive owner.
As with previous books in this series, the combination of Giles Andreae’s gentle rhyming text and Emma Dodd’s super-sweet scenes bring delight at every turn of the page.

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