What to read after... Varjak Paw

Published on: 15 March 2023

We love Varjak Paw by our current Writer in Residence SF Said and illustrator Dave McKean! If you do too, here are some ideas about which books to pick up next...

An illustration of a cat on the front cover of Varjak Paw

We love the thrilling adventures of Varjak Paw – and the brilliantly evoked cat world! SF Said's modern classic has readers on the edge of their seats during the action scenes, and it expertly explores themes of inclusion, friendship and bullying.

Once you've read the electrifying sequel, The Outlaw Varjak Paw, and Tyger, SF's glorious novel set in an alternative London, what could you read next?

Adventures in animal worlds

An illustration from Podkin One-Ear

Pic: David Wyatt

If you love the focus on animals, try Moon Flight by Gill Lewis, where a brave rat realises he must break the curse of a legendary diamond, and The Umbrella Mouse by Anna Fargher and illustrated by Sam Usher, set in the Second World War.

Adventure and fantasy combine thrillingly in Podkin One-Ear by Kieran Larwood and illustrated by David Wyatt, the beginning of an epic rabbit saga. The River Singers by Tom Moorhouse is an excellent adventure set in a world of water voles and river life. Or for a stretch read, try Watership Down by Richard Adams, which is a source of inspiration for SF Said himself.

Exhilarating action

The front cover of Cameron Battle and the Hidden Kingdoms

Pic: Vivienne To

If it's the action scenes that grip you in Varjak Paw, try The Last Whale by Chris Vick, 21% Monster by P J Canning or Cameron Battle and the Hidden Kingdoms by Jamar J Perry. They're three very different stories and settings, but all with heart-pumping adventure that will keep the pages turning.

For more martial arts, delve into Young Samurai: Way of the Warrior by Chris Bradford (and his Gamer series for shorter, more accessible reads). Other excellent books with fast-paced martial arts scenes are The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde and The Blood Guard by Carter Roy.

Animals and humans

The front cover of War Horse

Pic: Tom Clohosy Cole

Although Varjak surrounds himself with cats and a dog, not humans, readers who love Varjak Paw often enjoy reading about strong bonds between humans and animals. If you know someone like this, try War Horse by Michael Morpurgo, which is told from the point of view of Joey the horse as he gets involved in the First World War with his owner.

I, Cosmo by Carlie Sorosiak is narrated by an elderly dog, and is filled with love for his family, while What's That in Dog Years? by Ben Davis is funny, thoughtful and includes extracts from a family dog's memoirs. Both dog books are incredibly poignant.

And for an animal who turns into a human, and learns to make human friends while fiercely retaining her proud animal core, do check out the brilliant Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis.

SF's recommendations

An illustration from the front cover of The Girl Who Speaks Bear

Pic: Kathrin Honesta

Finally, SF himself recommends Piers Torday's The Last Wild series and Sophie Anderson's The Girl Who Speaks Bear, which both evoke vivid landscapes, assemble a group of unusual friends, and explore what it feels like to be an outsider.

Join in!

Those are some of our ideas – but what about you? What are your most-loved adventures?

Let us know by leaving your comments in the box below or tweeting us @BookTrust using the hashtag #WhatToReadAfter.

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