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Varjak Paw [Turtleback]

S. F. Said
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 10 2005
Varjak Paw is a Mesopotamian Blue kitten. He lives high up in an old house on a hill. He's never left home, but then his grandfather tells him about the Way - a secret martial art for cats. Now Varjak must use the Way to survive in a city full of dangerous dogs, cat gangs and, strangest of all the mysterious Vanishings.

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From School Library Journal

Grade 4-7–Having grown up at the top of the Hill behind walls with the Contessa, Varjak Paw and his family of Mesopotamian Blue cats have experienced only luxury. With the Contessa's death and the ominous intrusion of the stranger, Varjak is forced to abandon his family, including his grandfather, Elder Paw whose stories about their ancestor, Jalal, give him courage and hope to return to rescue them. During this journey, he meets feral cats and gangs, and faces all the dangers of urban life. He is transformed and brings salvation to all who encounter him. Guidall's narration of the novel by SF Said (Random, 2003) is exceptional, providing a myriad of distinct animal voices, and sometimes investing words with a cat-like howl or barking syllables. From the arrogant and youthful Julius to the street smart Holly, each vocalization is filled with personality through tone, inflection, and timing. The most significant of these is Jalal, the ancestral spirit who visits Varjak Paw in dreams. Guidall brings the flavor of Star War's Yoda to this character through his diction and timing, giving him the thoughtful, slow-paced speech of the ultimate teacher of the Way. In addition, Guidall adapts his audio style to the multi-faceted writing styles of the novel. When Varjak is climbing the wall to escape the attack of the black cats, Guidall reads this section like a poem, instead of the linear style in which it is written. This infuses urgency and tension into the novel with pauses and rhythm. The book and audio version used together are a great duo for reluctant readers.–Tina Hudak, St. Bernadette School, Silver Spring, MD
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 4-6. In this British import, a Mesopotamian Blue kitten, Varjak Paw, leaves his sheltered, privileged life to venture out into the world to save his family from invading black cats. To survive in a dangerous city full of vicious dogs, cat gangsters, and the mysterious, evil Vanishings, Varjak learns the Seven Skills in the Way of Jalal, a secret martial art for cats. Mastering the Way helps the cat learn to trust his own instincts, which comes in handy after he decides to enlist the help of a dog to fight the evil cats and save his family. Varjak is a spirited adventurer who evolves gradually and believably into a courageous protagonist. By cleverly and adeptly relating the story through a cat's perspective, Said makes the novel especially fascinating. McKean's striking, black-and-white sketches add an edgy, haunting aspect to the tale, which is full of action, adventure, and suspense. The story is sure to leave readers looking forward to more about the formidable feline. Ed Sullivan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars For My Son Aug. 28 2010
I bought this book for my son. He was looking for it for about a year and we finally found it. He was thrilled and when it arrived he read it in just over two days! So I think that says it all, when an 11 year old by gets a book he can't put down in the middle of the summer it must be a great read!
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5.0 out of 5 stars It's a cat's life May 10 2004
Format:Library Binding
Enticed by the wonderful Dave McKean illustrations, I bought this even though it's a children's book. I love it! "Varjak Paw" is one of those crossover works which is sure to be a hit with young and old. I sense a cult classic in-the-making here. My only criticism is, I felt the ending was ever so slightly anti-climactic. Nevertheless, it's thought-provoking and highly imaginative, boasting a rich array of characters; some endearing, some scary - all memorable. It's also original, even if the 'hero having to learn and grow to find himself' theme is not. This book will stand up to repeat readings, which is important for young readers. You don't have to like cats to enjoy it, though you may look at them in a different way after reading "Varjak Paw".
What I would love now? For Pixar Productions, the makers of 'Finding Nemo', to make "Varjak" into a fabulous film.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read-aloud for children 7 and up. Jan. 13 2004
By A Customer
You don't have to love cats to love this book. Having read hundreds of books over the course of the year, my sons (7 and 8 1/2 years old) and I give Varjak Paw our "Book of the Year" award. We love it! It's supenseful. It's passionate. It has a fundamental message that everyone needs to hear: It's not your "pedigree" but rather your conduct that makes you valuable.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Cat karate kicks tail Oct. 31 2003
Varjak Paw is the youngest cat in a cat family who want to sit and do nothing - they lack curiosity. His grandfather begins to tell him about the Way of Jalal, the cat martial art his ancestor invented, but Varjak is forced into the streets by strange intruders. He must make his way back to his family to defend both them and the other cats of the city using the Way of Jalal, which is taught to him by a cat master in his dreams.
This is a wonderful book, enhanced by vivid, stylised illustrations by Dave McKean, known for working with Neil Gaiman. There isn't any excessive cuteness, and the Horrible Fate menacing the cats is chilling. The illustrations in the middle of the pigeons in Trafalgar Square have real google-eyed pigeon personality. The writing is simple, not kids-book dumbed-down, and on the few occasions it doesn't meet its usual quality the illustrations carry it. Whether you're looking for a good young adult book, a good story, a 1st-class, non-sentimental cat book, or a tribute to kung fu flicks, this is an answer. Buy it, Little Grasshopper.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Varjak Paw Oct. 25 2003
By A Customer
This is one of the best books ever! It is just as good as Harry Potter! If you like this book then you should buy Warriors by Erin Hunter. I give this a two thubs up!
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