The Cat in the Cathedral
Gwen Zilm was Technical Services Librarian, Okanagan College, Kelowna, British Columbia.
The Cat in the Cathedral, by Bernadette Renaud, is the simple story of a stray cat and a lonely church organist, the friendship that develops between them, and the enrichment it provides to their emotional lives. (Only those people with no experience of cats will argue that they have no emotional lives.) The story itself will strike a responsive chord in any child who has ever had a pet and will remind adult readers of the important bonds that can exist between people and their pets. Bernadette Renaud is not new to children’s storytelling; she has nine other published children’s stories to her credit.
The Cat in the Cathedral was originally written in French. Frances Morgan, the translator, is to be congratulated on the translation. The power of words to enchant and weave a story is often defeated in translation by unfamiliar phraseology. The cadence and rhythm of the words here create a verbal symphony to continue with the musical metaphor. Though this is a book easily handled by an eight-year-old with average reading ability, it is most highly recommended as a read-aloud book for children in the early school years — those who are doing some independent reading but who can continue to benefit from hearing a well-constructed story read to them. Interaction between the characters is often touched with gentle humour.
The book is highly recommended. Several watercolour illustrations and a glossary of perhaps unfamiliar worth make it an advised purchase for all elementary school libraries.