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The Nine Lives of Island Mackenzie by Ursula…

The Nine Lives of Island Mackenzie

by Ursula Moray Williams

Other authors: Edward Ardizzone (Illustrator)

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Having recently become interested in the work of this prolific children's author, I have made it a point to read everything by her that I can lay hands on. This animal adventure, published in 1959 and illustrated by Edward Ardizzone, was originally released in the UK under the title The Nine Lives of Island Mackenzie.

The protagonist, a cat named Mackenzie, lives with his beloved Captain Jupiter aboard his ship, but is separated from him when a storm sends the Marigold to the bottom of the sea. Barely escaping the jaws of a group of hungry sharks, Mackenzie finds himself washed up on the shores of a desert island, where he discovers that the only other inmate is a cat-hating lady named Miss Mary Pettifer, also a survivor of the Marigold. How Mackenzie and Miss Pettifer learn to live with one another, surviving and flourishing on the island before their eventual rescue, make up the bulk of this story for intermediate readers.

Although the plot-line of an animal/creature cast out into the world is common to Williams' work, this title is less of a fantasy than some others, as Mackenzie does not speak, and never does anything a cat could not do in reality. There is some rather objectionable content here, from the regrettable and repeated references to the "savages" (ie: native islanders) that the two main characters encounter during the course of their adventures, to the abusive behavior of Miss Pettifer towards Mackenzie in the first half of the book. Although she eventually realizes that she is acting unkindly, scenes like the one in which she almost drowns Mackenzie in a sack are still rather upsetting.

All in all, I would say that it is just as well that this title is out of print, as I would hesitate to recommend it to any young reader of my acquaintance. ( )
1 vote AbigailAdams26 | Jun 27, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ursula Moray Williamsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ardizzone, EdwardIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Originally published in the UK as The Nine Lives of Island Mackenzie, and in the USA as Island Mackenzie, this children's novel follows the adventures of a shipwrecked cat.
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