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Monday, 24 June 2019

Review: A Cat Called Trim

Trim was a cat born for adventure.  

This sentence sets up the entire story which is about the relationship shared by Matthew Flinders and the cat he saved from drowning when on the HMS Reliance in 1799. 

A powerful friendship was formed that day. Trim became Flinders’ dedicated companion on all his expeditions until he was accused of spying, and imprisoned on Isle de France. There Trim left never to be seen again.

Corinne Fenton has a gift for reproducing real historical events. She uses her animal characters as centrepieces in her stories and builds exciting adventures around them. It’s a clever construction that aids retention of the historical facts. Her use of language is careful and considered with her repetition of sounds lifting and falling in rhythm when read.
 
The story logs Matthew Flinders’ explorations and travels, his challenges and how he overcame them while sharing his life and affection with Trim as they charted the unknown coasts of Australia. The fickle nature of cats shows in Trim as, unable to be cared for in the way he was accustomed, he escapes during Flinders’ imprisonment to find a new home and new adventures.

Craig Smith’s trademark expressions and emotions are once more reflected on the faces of his characters to add authenticity to the life of Trim and his fellow travellers. Stunning detail is found in the illustrations of the ships, on board and in the sea. The migrating birds above the masts, the dark, treacherous seas and stormy skies, all breathe reality into the story.

Smith has included bonus miniature images of the five ships mentioned throughout the story (and a stagecoach). These are positioned at various points on the illustrated pages, like surprises waiting to be discovered. There is a Postscript at the end of the book, along with a gathering of those illustrated miniature ships.

The magnificent cover shows Flinders and Trim leaning on the side of the ship looking out to sea. The back cover depicts the crew and Trim with Flinders, as a boat full of sailors, sails towards the coastline, their ship far back in the background.

Beautiful end pages filled with maps and the same floating ships complete this outstanding publication which is ideal as an introduction to Australian history for early learners.

Title: A Cat Called Trim
Author: Corrine Fenton
Illustrator: Craig Smith
Publisher: Allen & Unwin, $24.99
Publication Date: 1 April 2019
Format: Hardcover
For ages: 5 - 8
Type: Non Fiction Picture Book

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