7 of the best middle grade books with CATS

Published on: 15 January 2019 Author: Matilda Woods

Cats are not just for picture books. Appeal to your child's love of all things furry and feline with these kids' books for 8-12 year olds, picked by children's author Matilda Woods. 

1. The Cat Who Came In Off the Roof by Annie M G Schmidt

Originally written in 1970, The Cat Who Came In off the Roof is a charming Dutch classic that has only recently been translated into English. The story centres around Tibble: a shy reporter who is on the verge of losing his job because he only writes articles about cats. One day, Tibble meets a woman called Miss Minou who claims to have once been a cat. Miss Minou can communicate with cats and starts passing on ideas for news stories to Tibble from the town’s cats. This is a quirky and refreshing story with a strong European feel.

Read our book review of The Cat Who Came In Off The Roof

2. Pie by Sarah Weeks

The cat in Pie goes by the name of Lardo. Lardo is an extremely fat and grumpy cat. At the beginning of the story, Lardo is owned by Polly who is the best pie maker in the town of Ipswich. When Polly dies, she leaves her famous secret pie crust recipe to Lardo and leaves Lardo to her niece, Alice. A mystery ensues when Lardo is cat-napped and Alice and her friend Charles have to find him. Full of desserts, mystery and 14 pie recipes, this is a really enjoyable read.

3. Catlantis by Anna Starobinets

Catlantis is written by Russian author, Anna Starobinets. It tells the story of a house cat called Baguette who falls in love with a beautiful street cat called Purriana. To win Purriana’s heart, Baguette sets out on a treacherous journey back in time to the lost city of Catlantis. This is a wonderfully whimsical story full of adventure, surprise and charm. The black and white illustrations by Andrzej Klimowski are great!

4. Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

Crenshaw is about an 11-year-old boy called Jackson who is dealing with some really difficult issues, including poverty, homelessness, having a sick parent and being a young carer. Luckily, Jackson has a giant imaginary cat called Crenshaw who always appears to help at the times when he is struggling most. In this story, Applegate explores a sensitive subject using compassion and imagination. The chapters are short and easy to read.

5. Warriors by Erin Hunter

Warriors is a vast series of books that follow the adventures of five clans of wild cats: ThunderClan, ShadowClan, WindClan, RiverClan and SkyClan. There are well over 30 books in the series. They all link together and focus on how the clans have to fight (often with each other) to stay alive. I never became an avid follower of this series because I was too old by the time the books came out. But I have a feeling that if I had been a middle grader when these books were published, I would have absolutely loved them.

6. Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T S Eliot and illustrated by Edward Gorey

Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats is a book of cat poems that were originally written by T S Eliot for his godchildren. Each poem (or chapter) is about a different kind of cat with its own personality. It’s a lot of fun trying to find which one matches the personality of your own cat. It’s a whimsical and light-hearted book that’s made even more charming by the illustrations of Edward Gorey. Interesting fact: this book inspired the musical, Cats, and is almost 100 years old.

7. Catwings by Ursula K Le Guin

Catwings is a series of four books that follow the adventures of several kittens who were born with wings. The kittens set out on an adventure to find a better place to live beyond the city where they were born. On the surface, this is a very simple and quick read. But it also has a much deeper meaning. It explores the difficulties of being accepted in a world where being different isn’t something to be proud of. There are sad moments scattered throughout this book – and lots of dangers and difficulties. But ultimately the ending is uplifting. The illustrations by S D Schindler are just as charming as the story itself.

Matilda Woods is the author of The Girl, The Cat and the Navigator (Scholastic)

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