Anton and Cecil: Cats at Sea Review

anton_and_cecilAnton and Cecil: Cats at Sea by Lisa Martin and Valerie Martin, illustrated by Kelly Murphy

Algonquin Young Readers, 2013. 978-1616202460

Synopsis: Anton and Cecil might be brothers, but they are totally different. Anton prefers to take naps in the shade of the lighthouse where they live and steal fish from the docks when the ships come in. Cecil roams the docks longing for a grand sea-faring adventure and takes trips out on the fishing boats when he gets the chance. But when Anton is taken as a ratter on a large trading ship, Cecil must find a way to rescue his brother and bring him home.

Why I picked it up: It was a featured title at a vendor booth when I went to a conference in Seattle this last winter.

Why I finished it: I like sibling stories and I like animal stories, and Martin and Martin’s tale of two brothers that learn to appreciate each other kept my interest from page one. It’s vaguely reminiscent of The Incredible Journey, except that it involve sailing the high seas rather than braving the wild – though to be fair, the sea is pretty wild. Anton is clearly the more reasonable of the two brothers, more rational, and pretty content to stay where he is on land. Cecil is the type to leap before he looks and seek out any opportunity to explore the open water. So when Anton is cat-napped, Cecil knows that he needs to do everything he can to get his brother back. But when the two cats are traveling on different boats in possibly opposite directions, is there going to be any hope of finding each other? Hard to say, but as Martin and Martin’s narrative bounces back and forth between the two brothers, the reader becomes thoroughly in the adventure and learns a little bit about the life and business of sailing. Murphy’s illustrations add depth to the story and feed the imagination as the reader goes through the book. I also enjoyed that the story clearly emphasizes the element of hope, of finding light in dark places, and despite its initially thick appearance, it is a fairly quick read. Fun and exciting, I’m looking forward to exploring more of both Martins’ work.

Other related materials: The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1: Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson, illustrated by Dave Phillips; The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt; The Show Must Go On! (The Three Ring Rascals, Book 1) by Kate Klise and M. Sarah Klise; The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes; The Time Fetch by Amy Herrick; Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo; The Fantastic Family Whipple by Matthew Ward; The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail by Richard Peck; The Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartnett, illustrated by Andrea Offermann

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