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The Cat at the Wall

by Deborah Ellis

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454425,941 (3.56)1
A cat sneaks into a small Palestinian house on the West Bank that has been commandeered by two Israeli soldiers. The house seems empty, until the cat realizes that a little boy is hiding beneath the floorboards. Should she help him? After all, she's just a cat. Or is she? She was once a regular North American girl, but that was before she died and came back to life as a cat. When the little boy is discovered, the soldiers don't know what to do with him. It is not long before his teacher and classmates come looking for him, and the house is suddenly surrounded by Palestinian villagers throwing rocks, and the sound of Israeli tanks approaching. As the soldiers begin to panic and disaster seems certain, the cat knows that it is up to her to diffuse the situation. But what can a cat do? What can any one creature do?… (more)

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Showing 4 of 4
This book pleasantly surprised me. Actually, I feel like that statement is not accurate. It took me by surprise, for sure, it was moving and powerful and deeply eye opening, but maybe pleasant is the wrong word to use. I have not read enough literature from developing countries and to be honest I don’t know anything about the Israel/Palestine conflict so there was some of this that was new to me, which makes me think it could also be difficult for the middle grade readers it was intended for. But I feel like I’m getting ahead of myself. What is this book?

Clare is a cat in Israel who used to be on very spoiled 13-year-old American girl. She is absolutely dreadful as a human being and when she dies, she returns as a cat in the chaos of Israel. She is just looking for shelter when she follows two Israeli soldiers into the Palestinian house they have commandeered. The only inhabitant of that house is a scared little boy hiding under the floorboards.

This has been one of my only stand out reads lately, and it came when I really needed it. It’s not long, only a 142 pages, so naturally I knocked it off one Sunday afternoon. It was a captivating read and a fascinating and unique insight to a world I know very little about, embarrassingly. I consider myself educated but then I read books like this and I know there is a lot I’m missing. It is great that books like this exist and I know I should be reading more of them. They need to be read and shared.

I liked the simplistic, straight forward thinking of the cat and hence the way the story was told. At times I was crying, I was smiling, my heart was racing and in my throat. The cat’s story in Israel was juxtaposed with the story of Clare as a girl and what led to her death. This girl was not nice! And that’s why it’s interesting to see that story against the relatively simple life of the cat (although the cat was in a conflict zone). It made for a fascinating read that I did not put down.

The story builds as the soldiers discover the boy and then the tension builds further and further when the boy’s schoolteacher drops by and the situation is realised by the people in the neighbourhood. As the story races to a conclusion we don’t know how it’s all going to unfold and it’s almost a little frightening to know how things like this can happen in our world. This book’s promise is enormous with the powerful potential to educate and open the minds of the young it is geared towards. I hope it ends up into the hands of someone whose perspective it can change. I know it has mine. ( )
  crashmyparty | Aug 11, 2016 |
55370000474057
  Bookman1954 | Oct 23, 2015 |
This is quite a departure from Ellis's typical straightforward storytelling and I'm not quite sure what to make of it. As usual, Ellis bravely tackles complex subjects and difficult themes, and does not flinch in dealing with them. There is just something I find off-putting in the reincarnation narrative. Perhaps if I were not already so familiar with her other works, I might have a different reaction. ( )
  Sullywriter | May 22, 2015 |
I'm not sure about the audience for this book. It's a rather grim tale about a spoiled, mean girl who dies and is reincarnated as a not particularly nice cat on the Palestine/Israel border. Will she help others or continue on her selfish path? It's a rather depressing past to find the answer. ( )
  dcoward | Dec 1, 2014 |
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A cat sneaks into a small Palestinian house on the West Bank that has been commandeered by two Israeli soldiers. The house seems empty, until the cat realizes that a little boy is hiding beneath the floorboards. Should she help him? After all, she's just a cat. Or is she? She was once a regular North American girl, but that was before she died and came back to life as a cat. When the little boy is discovered, the soldiers don't know what to do with him. It is not long before his teacher and classmates come looking for him, and the house is suddenly surrounded by Palestinian villagers throwing rocks, and the sound of Israeli tanks approaching. As the soldiers begin to panic and disaster seems certain, the cat knows that it is up to her to diffuse the situation. But what can a cat do? What can any one creature do?

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