by Siân Norris
Robert Griggs, illustrator
Our Street Books
Back Cover: Greta’s best friend is her cat Boris. However, little does she realise her bewhiskered buddy is actually the Prince of the Kingdom of Cats. So when he is kidnapped by the Rat King, a young warrior cat named Kyrie Mi-ke is sent to find Greta, and the together they face a mystical and magical adventure to bring Boris home again.
First Sentence: The time of the night had arrived when all was silent in the Kingdom of Cats.
Twelve-year-old Greta is enjoying the first day of summer vacation. Her parents are away on another of their trips, leaving an absent-minded Aunt Annie to watch over Greta. Upon waking, Greta finds her beloved cat Boris is missing. The two are normally inseparable. Far away in the Kingdom of Cats, a beloved cat is also missing. Absent from the morning feast is Prince Boris, heir to the kingdom. The Rat King has kidnapped the prince. Enter the great warrior Kyrie. She must find Greta, convince her she is the only one who can rescue Boris/Prince Boris, and then begin the long and difficult journey to the Kingdom of Rats.
Along the way, Greta discovers an animal world she never knew existed. She will need all of her strength, bravery, and confidence to make it through the tasks ahead. The first is the staircase of leaves, which will take the pair to Cloud Top Land and bird life Greta could only imagine. Then they must cross the Milky Sea, a large expanse of milk separating Cloud Top Land and the land of the mice. Once across, they run into a war between two mice tribes before getting to the Kingdom of the Rats, a desolate place where the sun seems not to shine. Just prior to entering, lays the Millpond. This calm area of water will be one of Greta’s most difficult challenges and prove important when rescuing the prince.
I enjoyed Greta and Boris and loved all the imaginative places and things Greta comes upon in her journey to save Boris. Each kingdom is vibrant and special, except the Kingdom of Rats that is too dark and desolate to describe in any other terms. Chapter 2 tells us all we need to know about Greta. The journey reinforces Greta’s qualities and self-identity. The outcome of the challenge between Greta and the Rat King was easy to foresee and therefore somewhat of a letdown.
The author does not shy away from difficult subjects. She touches on climate control, bigotry, war and peace, friendship and love, human disruption of animal habitats, the balance of nature, and solving conflicts with conversations not weapons. Nothing is expressed as a hardline, but rather as something to learn and grow.
A few inconsistencies bothered me about the writing, which is generally very good. Greta packed a rucksack prior to leaving on the rescue mission. Along with extra clothes, Greta packed “. . . some sandwiches, and bottles of water.” When Greta and Kyrie finally stopped to eat, “. . . Greta had some juice and rice salad.” Hm.
The biggest inconsistency concerned Boris’ name. Each cat in the kingdom had four names. The first is that of the founding father of the family, the second the name of the human the cat was responsible for, the third is the name given the cat by said human, and the last is the cat’s surname. Warrior Kyrie’s founding family is Mui, her human’s name is Sumire, and her surname is Mi-ke, so Kyrie’s full name is Mui Sumire Kyrie Mi-ke. Boris’s founding family name is Marmaduke, his human is Greta, and his surname is Blue. Therefore, Boris, or Prince Boris, has the full name Marmaduke Nikolai Boris Blue. What? Nikolai? I would think his second name would be Greta given she is the human in his life he is responsible for. The two are inseparable, except when Boris is catnapped, so who is this Nikolai?
The biggest problem with these errors is that it made me stop, thinking I had read something wrong or outright missed something. I took the time to go back and re-read causing a disruption in the story. I would also like to see the chapter names shortened to rid the “In which . . ..” That becomes redundant and makes the chapter names exceedingly long. For example, “In which Greta visits the Port of the Milky Sea” could simply be Port of the Milky Sea.
On the positive side, and there is much to be positive about, the story is well developed; Greta changes after each challenging conflict; the well-developed characters have wonderful back-stories; they are likable and interesting; and the reader can easily visualize the changing surroundings. This is a story adults should read for the underlying politics makes the story edgy. Intended for ages 7 to 9, the politics is softly touched and will not endanger the story for this age. Both boys and girls will like Greta and Boris: a Daring Rescue.
by Siân Norris blog bio twitter Robert Griggs, illustrator blog twitter Our Street Books website facebook twitter Released March 16, 2013 ISBN: 978-1-78099-623-3 98 Pages Ages: 7 to 9 . Copyright 2013 by Our Street Books, used with permission. Text: Copyright © 2012 by Siân Norris Illustrations: Copyright © 2013 by Robert Griggs
DONATED TO LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY
- Bristol Women’s Literature Festival (thefword.org.uk)