Cover and internal illustrations by Anuska Allepuz
Oona should have been a boy, the heir her father longed for. At least, that is what the fortune teller predicted before she was even conceived. His anger at her being a girl means she is taunted and ignored by her family. She longs to sail the Great Northern Seas with her father, but women don’t go to Sea. They don’t even learn to read in Nordlor. When she learns that she is to travel South with her mother and sisters, she takes matters into her own hands in a desperate bid to win her father’s approval, and have the adventure she has always longed for.
Lyrical storytelling, a bold, brave, independent girl and mythical creatures, both monstrous & magical, are spun together to create a breathtaking story that reads like the very best fairytales. The Girl, The Cat And The Navigator is, without question, one of my favourite reads this year!
Matilda Woods brings this fantasy world to life with her wonderfully descriptive style, while her characters, human or otherwise, shine as brightly as the star studded skies above the Great Northern Seas. The cold and damp of Oona’s homeland and journey seep into your bones while the dusty, heat of the South offer enough warmth to keep the chill at bay. But, it is Oona’s relationship with Haroyld that truly warms both heart and soul.
Oona tackles the gender stereotypes of her world head on, refusing to accept the life she is destined for. Her courage and determination see her accepted, while her strong morals and integrity set her apart. Her inspirational, pioneering attitude is reminiscent of Malala’s fight for girl’s rights to be educated. I can already hear gasps of horror from young readers as they struggle with the blatant discrimination Oona battles against, both at home and aboard The Plucky Leopard.
Anuska Allepuz’s illustrations capture the atmosphere of the story perfectly, adding an extra layer of depth and warmth.
Huge thanks to Laura and Scholastic for sending me a copy. Do make sure you read the guest post by Matilda Woods about the characters in the book!