Now I preface this review by saying I love reading. I remember weekly trips to the library being a special occasion when I was a child, and I have passed that love of reading on to Miss K, as the two bookshelves that take up her bedroom wall will attest. Every night I MUST read her a story before she goes to bed, then she MUST take five books with her to bed. So when I was asked to review a new children's book by Australian author Melina Mallos I jumped at the chance. I was not disappointed.
When I agreed to review the book I was told it was an exploration of Greek culture as well as the rich history of the country, a subject I would have thought difficult to sell to children, but this book just showed how little I know about selling a subject to kids.
The story follows Elesa, a little girl whose cat Aphrodite has run away from home. Her and her Yiayia (grandmother for anyone who has never met a Greek person) must travel around the Greek island of Kythera, passing many historic locations as well as places of cultural importance while searching for their lost cat. Now because this is a children's book and not Marley & Me the cat does end up returning home, but not before you learn all about this beautiful island and it's amazing history.
The story was very easy to read, and more importantly it was easy for Miss K to understand. Before we started reading the book I explained how the story was set in a totally different country to Australia, and we looked at a map of Greece, and the island of Kythera which was included inside the front cover of the book. This part fascinated Miss K, and she spent ages pouring over the map, following the cat's footsteps around the island.
The books illustrations, drawn and painted by a talented Athenian Tety Solou were simply spectacular and only added to the total appeal of this book. Miss K and I spent ages staring at each page, simply trying to take in as much of every scene as we could. It took us about ten minutes to read the book the first time around, not because it was too wordy, but because we had to stop every page just to stare.
One of Miss K's favourite pages
After we finished the book the first time, Miss K insisted we go back to the beginning and read it again, discussing everything we noticed on each page as we went. I have never seen Miss K this excited about a book, which is saying something. She even insisted this book be read to her again that night at bedtime. To date I have had to read it to her another three times, and my sister has had to read it to her once. It is definitely a new favourite.
The beautiful thing about this book is that Melina's pride for her home country is evident in every page, so much so that you can't help but feel you are right there with Elesa and her Yiayia. Her reverence for the culture and historical significance Greece holds comes through strongly, and helps bring Greece into your home. It is excellent for teaching children about the world around them in a relatable and fun way.
My favourite page
So if you're looking for a new book to buy for a little one in your life, I definitely recommend Catch that Cat by Melina Mallos. You can find it for sale here.