The Outlaw Varjak Paw
David Fickling Books, 2006 (2006)
Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke
wo-color, pen and ink illustrations by Dave McKean sketch cast and settings of SF Said's story, continuing the adventures of silver-blue furred, amber-eyed
. After being raised inside as a pet, Varjak realized a yearning for freedom out-of-doors. Life in the streets is hard, with hostile gangs. At the edge of nightfall, Varjak and street-wise friends (cats Holly and Tam, and dog Cludge) tenderly traipse over shattered glass, '
hoping to find some scraps in the city dump
he reader is given glimpses of Varjak's nightly dreams, entering the land of Mesopotamia to meet his ancestor.
teaches Varjak his legacy of
, and at times Varjak is afraid of releasing these inherited powers. These same skills are the strength of Varjak's nemesis Sally Bones, a thin, spotless-white cat with one ice-blue eye, her other eye a shadow. Sally is the leader of a feared gang of brawny cats that live in an old stone tower. Varjak has one more skill to learn from Jalal, that is the power to
. This is sensed by Sally Bones, and it makes her afraid.
arjak had gained fame by saving many cats from the
. His reputation growing as a threat to Sally, she declares him outlaw, '
wanted dead or alive
'. Varjak's following grows after meeting three haughty Siamese
, who claim the '
fastest claws in town
'; the brazen
Omar and Ozzie; and Mrs. Moggs, an old, gentle, marmalade tabby, who lives near the river's harbor. They form a partnership, naming themselves the
, with Varjak as leader. But will even his skills -
- be enough to rescue Mrs. Moggs' kitten, little Jessie?
or years, Mrs. Moggs had been telling the story of a safe city belowground (Cludge is aware of it and afraid to return). It is called
, guarded by a family of dogs, and with an abundant population of mice. Going into hiding, Varjak and his followers soon must leave safety and face a showdown with Sally Bones and her gang. Fighting for what is right, tenacious Varjak wins friendships, and faces painful losses with hope and courage.
The Outlaw Varjak Paw
, whose characters have personality, is a suspenseful and enjoyable read.
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