This second in the "Rascal" series combines the strengths and weaknesses of the first book, though the editing is improving. (The first book was published in Poland; the second in the U.S.) Still, another go at the galley proofs would have been helpful - there are many times the text breaks abruptly into white space and continues on the next line, or the word usage is just plain awkward. (Example: Rascal declares, "We're enjoying learning about cats from and another country and this is our great, amazing, interesting alive book!")
For many readers this will not be a problem. However, if like me you've grown up loving the classic children's stories and continue to read them as an adult, you may wish that the author's imagination, warm heart and desire to teach children about other lands and customs were combined with just a bit more literary style. In many ways, this series is like the popular "Magic Treehouse" series, except that instead of a brother and sister being transported to different places in history, we have a group of seven cats. Sometimes they act like cats, and sometimes (almost disconcertingly), they act like people, using tools and speaking directly with humans. Sometimes their adventures are grounded in reality; other times they are more like fairy tales. After one adventure in ancient Egypt, the cats find themselves in a very unrealistic medieval Europe, which combines a talking dragon with (all too real) references to the Black Death and a truly terrifying encounter with thousands of hungry rats. In the third adventure, a kind of "Home Alone" with cats, they defend their home against burglers - aided by nine more cats!
Although the cats are lightly sketched as individual personalities, I'd have preferred fewer cats and more emotional investment in each. Not only are there a few too many cats to keep track of, but other animals often come and go within a page or two, giving us no chance to know them except as a kind of encyclopedia definition. A sample: "Oryx, a large antelope with a head marked with black triangular patches and broad black stripes extending from the base of long, spear-like horns over the eyes to the cheeks, looked at them and asked, 'Where are you going with those two bad gods?'" Whew! Reading this book, a child will learn a great deal about animal species and ancient customs (parents may want to keep a dictionary and an encyclopedia handy), but at times it's almost too much.
On the plus side (and it's a big plus), I loved the emphasis on cooperation, on non-violence, on faith in overcoming obstacles, on the uses of positive energy, and especially on the power of the purr! The sequence where the cats defeat the rats surrounding them is truly inspirational. As one wise cat says, "Force leads to destruction. It's guilty and feeds off its own avarice.... Power, on the other paw, is used in the service of goodness, to help others and to do what's right." In balance, these are engaging cat tales where the most important lessons are probably not what can be learned in a dictionary, but in the heart.