Scratch was a ship’s cat. He had found Mrs Captain’s diamonds and he’d found his Paa. But instead of being happy, he was sad and frightened. Paa and Mrs Captain had sailed away, leaving Scratch alone on a tiny island in the middle of the ocean.
Scratch prowled along the beach.
He hoped his friends would come back for him. But all night long, the only sound he heard was swishing waves.
Just as the sun rose, Scratch heard voices. He pricked up his ears.
Scratch has had many adventures in his life as a ship’s cat. In Scratch Kitten and the Ghost Ship, Scratch hitches a ride in a new ship, hoping to find his way back to his friends. The Captain is happy to have him on board, but others are not so excited. Scratch and a thin man called Sir Peter Petall seem to get off to a rough start. Sir Peter is keen to find new animals and plants, and to name them all after himself. Scratch tries to be helpful but is dismayed to find an unusual animal called Toopo, locked up in a cage on deck. Scratch spies a ghost ship and tries to warn the sailors, but all he seems to do is get into one scrape after another. By the time the Captain and others see the ghost ship, the petulant Sir Peter is ready to pitch Scratch overboard.
Scratch is a curious and sometimes misunderstood cat. And if Sir Peter has his way, the little cat is going to need all of his nine lives to survive. Scratch tries to talk to the humans on the ship, but all they hear is miaow. He can, however, understand what they are saying and he can also talk to Toopo, the other animal on board. The captain and crew welcome Scratch aboard but are prone to superstition. Sir Peter’s search for new plants and animals seems motivated by self-promotion and a need to best his father. There are loose associations with the voyages of Captain Cook and the discoveries of Joseph Banks, and these provide opportunities for discussion beyond the adventure. Young readers will enjoy Scratch’s escapades.
Scratch Kitten and the Ghost Ship, Jessica Green ill Mitch Vane
Little Hare 2010
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
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