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17 June 2012

Dougal’s Diary, published 2010 Clan Destine Press. Also – When We Were Kittens published 2012 Clan Destine Press.

having returned from both our New Zealand National SF Convention (Unconventional) in Auckland, and the Aussie natcon, (Continuum 8) in Melbourne, I’m behind in reviews. This will be made up because I returned with books (of course) and more were waiting for me when I got home. (Along with a cat who had quite a lot to say on the subject of humans going AWOL.) While at Continuum 8 I discovered a publisher (Clan Destine Press) who seems to have produced a higher than average number of books I want to keep, rather than read once and donate to our library. I strongly recommend both books listed above to cat lovers.

Dougal is a  kitten with black and white patches whose early life has traumatic patches of similar hues. His tale, told in diary form, begins with vague memories of feeding from his mum and cuddling with his siblings. Then, the first adventure, ‘climbing out of the box’. He’s loved, cared for, happy,  growing and exploring. Until – by my estimation when he’s around 6-7 weeks old and far too young to be removed – he’s taken to a shelter of some sort and dumped there. He is terrified, miserable, and  lonely. He’s neutered, and after a week of misery a woman arrives and takes him home. Not good however. She doesn’t understand cats, hits him when the baby pulls his tail agonisingly and Dougal scratches him, and Dougal is returned to the shelter two days later, leaving him bewildered and traumatised. So he sits and cries, day after day, until after ten days of this the shelter puts a smaller girl kitten in with him.

Dougal adopts her as his sister because she looks like one of his original siblings, and things improve. They become close to perfect when a man arrives and takes both Dougal and his sister who will be named Shadow. And from then on Dougal and Shadow live with Man and Woman, and Belladonna the old cat who was there when they came. This books walks a very fine line between making events clear to the reader and not going too far beyond what a cat might understand. It’s clever, sweet, funny, and charming, and also beautifully presented. Dougal’s photo is on the cover of both books, with charming line-drawings inside the first and more Dougal photos in the second. The diary format is excellent, helping the reader make sense of some of Dougal’s comments. Frankly I plan to keep an eye open to see if there’s a third book at any stage because this duo were definitely ‘keepers.’ (A belief that may have been shared as I noticed a number of others also buying the books.)





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