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Ross Welford, author of The 1,000-Year-Old Boy, Rounds Up Famous Purr-fect Paws in Print

Posted on 14th February 2018 by Martha Greengrass

As we celebrate half term, Ross Welford, author of the epic new children's novel The 1,000-Year-Old Boy selects his favourite literary moggys, exclusively for Waterstones.

There is something mystical and mysterious about cats, which is perhaps why I chose a cat to be Alfie Monk’s immortal sidekick in The 1,000-Year-Old Boy.

Alfie’s cat, Biffa, is based – in name as well as in character – on a cat that once belonged to my brother.  Sadly, a close encounter with a cement mixer travelling at 30 mph ensured that the real Biffa was not immortal.

These cats, however, will live on - in the pages of books, anyhow:

A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen

Bob is probably the most successful cat-in-a-book ever.  The heartwarming real-life tale of a ginger tom turning around the life of a homeless man has – seven books and a movie later - turned busker James Bowen into a millionaire.

£9.99
Paperback
10+ in stock
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'There’s a famous quote I read somewhere. It says we are all given second chances every day of our lives. They are there for the taking; it’s just that we don’t usually take them.'The moving, uplifting true story of an unlikely friendship between a man on the streets and the ginger cat who adopts him and helps him heal his life. Isn’t it time you met Bob?
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Varjak Paw by S F Said.

SF Said’s debut novel for children, told from the point of view of a cat with feline martial arts skills, scooped loads of awards and has been adapted for the stage as a play and an opera, and is under option as a movie.  Published in 2003, it was followed by another, The Outlaw Varjak Paw two years later.  Special mention to the illustrator Dave McKean, for fabulous, rather haunting pictures.

£6.99
Paperback
10+ in stock
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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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Mog by Judith Kerr

The redoubtable Ms Kerr (94, and no sign of retirement) has written and illustrated eighteen books about Mog, the family cat, since 1970.  She killed Mog off in 2002, only to revive him in 2015 for a Christmas tie-in with Sainsbury’s.  And let’s not forget The Tiger Who Came To Tea, which is also about a cat (only a really big, greedy one).

£6.99
Paperback
10+ in stock
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The quintessential story about everyone's favourite family cat, Mog. Mog always seems to be in trouble. She forgets that she has a cat flap and she forgets that she has already eaten her supper. But, one night, Mog's forgetfulness comes in very handy...
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Findus and Pettson by Sven Nordqvist

Nothing to do with convenience foods, this Findus is a cat belonging to the scruffy, kindly old Pettson.  These books were a favourite in our half-Swedish household.  To me, their appeal lay less in the stories and more in the glorious, detailed, full-page illustrations.

£12.99
Hardback
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It is Findus the talking cat's birthday, so Farmer Pettson wants to bake a big stack of pancakes for the cat who has three birthdays a year. But how can they get the eggs when the bull is in the way? Before he can start baking, there are just a few things he needs to sort out...
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Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by TS Eliot

Mungojerrie, Rumpleteazer, Mistoffelees, Jennyanydots, Old Deuteronomy…he was onto something was old Tom Eliot.  The verses themselves are perfect, humorous, lessons in scanning and rhyming.  If only someone would put them to music, they might have a hit on their hands.

£10.99
Paperback
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A stunning new gift edition of this much-loved classic, with the celebrated black-and-white illustrations by Edward Gorey. Cats! . The whimsical 1982 Old Possum's illustrations have been lovingly restored and are showcased in this beautiful new poetry edition, perfect for children and Eliot aficionados alike.
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The Tale Of Tom Kitten by Beatrix Potter.

Ugh.  I loathed these books when I was a child, and time has not softened my dislike.  Yet… Beatrix Potter books continue to sell.  I have no idea why.  I think they are all bought by well-meaning grandparents.  I have yet to meet a child who actually likes them.

£5.99
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Tom and his sisters look so smart in their new clothes. When their mother sends them outside while she waits for her visitors, she couldn't possibly guess what kind of mess they are going to get themselves into.
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Beware The Cat by William Baldwin

This book is often called the first published novel in English.  It appeared in 1561, and featured several animals, real and mythological.  This being the reign of Elizabeth I, the “cats” supposedly symbolise “Catholics”.  Despite being a horror story, it boasted on its cover that it was “Very pleasant and merry to read.”  No original copy survives.

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