Author: Lisa Martin & Valerie Martin
Illustrator: Kelly Murphy
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Genre: Middle-grade / Cats
Valerie Martin’s website
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Anton and Cecil are two cat brothers living near the docks in Nova Scotia. Cecil loves to visit the sailors on the ships, while Anton prefers remaining on shore. Cats are often captured and forced aboard the ships to rid them of rats, and Anton suddenly finds himself out at sea. Cecil, intent on rescuing his brother, boards the next ship out. But the sea is a wide-open place, and he has no idea how to find Anton.
Dolphins, whales, and a mouse, as well as another seafaring cat, all become companions of these two cats at sea. Is there also a kind and powerful force looking out for them all, and will they finally be reunited? Storms, pirates, rats, and menacing birds all threaten their safety, but legend has it that cats at sea are protected by a mysterious eye.
Unfortunately, this legend is presented in obscure quotations and eye sightings, and not fully explained. The disappearance of a ship’s entire crew is also not explained, and in researching, I discovered this had actually happened on the Mary Celeste, a real ship found abandoned near Gibraltar in 1872. A small reference to this might have made the incident feel more plausible.
Cats at Sea is full of adventure, as Anton and Cecil learn to live on the sea. Overall, it’s a fun read with a happy ending. Kids will enjoy the way these three cats and an unusual mouse relate to each other, and the strong friendships that develop.
Reviewer: Alice Berger