To Be A Cat


How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously read by the same author:
Echo Boy


Barney Willow’s life couldn’t get any worse. He’s weedy, with sticky-out ears. Horrible Gavin Needle loves tormenting him – Barney has no idea why. And headteacher-from-hell Miss Whipmire seems determined to make every second of Barney’s existence a complete misery! Worst of all, Dad has been missing for almost a year, and there’s no sign of him ever coming home.

Barney just wants to escape. To find another life. To be a cat, for example. A quiet, lazy cat. Things would be so much easier – right?


I’m trying to read more children’s literature in preparation for potentially teaching 7 years old + from September. I have loads of experience with literature for the under 7’s, but I have to admit to being a bit foggy with anything above that. So, in-between my usual reading I’m trying to slot in the occasional piece of children’s literature so I can gradually build up my collection. I was excited to read To Be A Cat as it’s Matt Haig and I know I love his writing. I also was intrigued to see how his writing was for younger readers. I absolutely adored To Be A Cat. It’s a very heart-warming read.

To Be A Cat centres around Barney Willow who is a normal twelve year old. Life is beginning to get Barney down though. His parents are divorced and his father has disappeared. He’s being bullied and the headmistress at his school would give The Trunchbull a run for her money. When Barney sees a cat lazing outside his house, he wonders whether his life would be better if he was a cat. Barney is about to find out…

My immediate thought about this book was that I think children would absolutely devour it. It’s funny from the get go and is rather manic. I imagine it would be great to read out to a class. The pace is good and within the story you can see elements that adults would enjoy.

The characters in To Be A Cat are fantastic. Barney as our main character is so relatable and easy to like. As I mentioned, the head teacher Miss Whipmire reminded me of the nasty Trunchbull from Matilda. She’s a great villain. Someone I loved to hate, and I imagine children will absolutely love to hate as well. Some of the names of the characters are witty, like Mr Waffle for a boring English teacher. Children will love that!

I thought To Be A Cat was an engaging, fun, witty read that could be enjoyed from 9+ but also read out aloud to younger children. I think they’d lap up the characters and it would make for very interesting discussion!

Would I recommend it?:

A funny, warm-hearted tale of being careful what you wish for! The wittiness of the writing will appeal to children and adults alike!

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