A note about The Cuddlywumps Chronicles

This blog is written and maintained by Miss Cuddlywumps, a fluffy-tailed calico cat who is both classically educated and familiar with mysteries. She receives creative input from the Real Cats and clerical assistance from She of Little Talent (old SoLT, a.k.a. Roby Sweet). Comments or complaints should be addressed to Miss C rather than to old SoLt (Ms. Sweet). Ms. Sweet accepts no responsibility for Miss C's opinions.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Book Review: A Pair of Books on New York Cats

We have been pleased to have a pair of excellent books about cats in New York City cross our desk recently. New York is one of the world’s great cities, so you would expect it to have great cats. If the felines in Matilda the Algonquin Cat and Shop Cats of New York are any indication, New York cats are great indeed!

Note: The links in this post are affiliate links. If you purchase a book through these links, old SoLT and I could get some coin for our kibble account. Thank you!

We were not compensated for these reviews.

Matilda, the Algonquin Cat

If you have heard anything about famous felines of New York, you have surely heard of Matilda, the current cat-in-residence at the legendary Algonquin Hotel. In this picture book by Leslie Martini, illustrated by Massimo Mongiardo, we learn on the very first page that Matilda is the center of…well, the world, basically. In this fictional story, Matilda introduces us to her life in the hotel and the people who care for serve her.

Matilda is one busy cat, what with guests to greet and luggage to help with. She even does laundry! It is amazing, really, that she ever finds time in her schedule to answer all of her fan mail. This book also includes a short lesson on the history of the Algonquin and its cats. In case you haven’t heard the story, a stray cat showed up in the hotel’s lobby back in 1932 and was allowed to stay, and there has been a cat there ever since. The male cats have all been named Hamlet, and the female cats have all been named Matilda. The current Matilda is a ragdoll who has been in residence since 2010.

Matilda, the Algonquin Cat is marketed as a children’s picture book, and yes, it has a story and illustrations (rather excellent illustrations!) suitable for all the young cat lovers out there, but we think this book will delight ailurophiles of any age. We found the story to be a lot of fun; it’s well written and moves along at a good reading-aloud pace. We cannot recommend it enough! Two paws way up!

A note on the "Paws Up" system: Miss C gives either one or two paws up. One paw is for a good read; two paws is for a great read. She never gives three or four paws because that would require her to lie on her back...and Miss C does not do that!

Shop Cats of New York

This next volume is a picture book of a different sort. Shop Cats of New York, written by Tamar Arslanian and with photographs by Andrew Marttila, shows us—you guessed it—cats who live in various kinds of shops in the city. We were amazed at the variety of shops represented, from a vegan shoe store to the hectic offices of a courier service and a Pilates studio whose cat may or may not have been a performer in the same building in a previous life. There is even a cat who lives in a glass-blowing studio (and she has a kiln named after her!). And yes, Matilda of the Algonquin makes an appearance, because no book about New York cats would be complete without her.

Arslanian writes that she once felt sorry for shop cats, who have lives so different from what the average house cat is used to. But when she looked deeper into the stories of New York’s shop cats, she saw how much attention these cats get, how so many of them thrive on the activity in their unorthodox homes. For the right kind of cat in the right kind of shop, it’s a perfect life!

The photography in Shop Cats of New York is a joy, as we get to see these cats in their “natural” environment. Actually, old SoLT mostly paid attention to the text on her first time through this book, but when she went back for a second look, she could not stop gazing at the photographs. These aren’t the sort of cat-on-the-living-room-couch or lion-on-the-savannah pictures she usually enjoys, but they show relaxed cats who own their territory, and they are beautiful.

Shop Cats of New York is another winner! Two paws way up!

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