That we refuse to have a pet cat is an ongoing source of frustration for my kids (if you’re curious as to why, several of the reasons are covered in this article) and so when M and J discovered Poppy’s Place: The Home-made Cat Café by Katrina Charman with illustrations by Lucy Truman, they hungrily swallowed it whole, making notes as they read, plotting quietly with each other when ever they though I wouldn’t notice.
Isla is cat crazy, but her mum refuses to let her have one as a pet. Isla’s mum works as a veterinary nurse and the last thing she wants after a busy day at work is to come home to more animals who need looking after. But then Poppy appears in their lives…
This especially lovely cat, in need of a home, turns up at around the same time as Isla’s granny comes to stay for the first time since becoming a widow. Gentle strands exploring family relationships, the grieving process, and the adjustments that have to be navigated as family shapes change all come together in this sweet story where Isla comes up with an entrepreneurial way to persuade her mum to finally let her dream come true and have a cat at home.
And as the title alludes to… not just one cat, but a full on fantasy for many a feline fan: the creation of their very own cat café, a place where you can not only get great cake, but can enjoy a coffee with a cat purring in your lap. The experience of reading books is often about escaping into dreams you wish could become reality, and for my girls this was definitely the case with Poppy’s Place: The Home-made Cat Café!
This is a feel-good, gentle comfort-read of a story, ideal for fans of Holly Webb’s animal stories, or perhaps those who like Jacqueline Wilson’s younger fiction. Isla’s persistence and her tech savvy big sister’s kindness are great, and the way the community comes together to support a project is another charming side to this story. Both my kids are very pleased there is to be second book later in the year following the characters they’ve met in Poppy’s Place… even if they’re still getting nowhere when it comes to persuading me that we should have a cat. At least now they can live vicariously through Isla!
I wouldn’t want you to think that I have a heart of stone, even though I refuse to have pets. I really do have a soft side, and I even let it show one day after school when the kids came home to this:
The girls ordered from the menu…
Can you spot all the different feline-themed food?
We may not have had any real cats in our café, but we certainly had a few who stepped out from stories. Who can you spot?
If you’d like to make your own cat café at home, please feel free to use our menu template. It has endorsements from all sorts of fictional cats (Garfield says of the café: “Paw-sitively the yummiest place to eat even if there isn’t any lasagna…“), and also some cat-themed book recommendations on the back. You can download the menu cover here (pdf), and the inside (ready for you to fill with your own choice of food) here (pdf).
Except for the book covers and the silhouette cats, all the images used in the menu come from the British Library Flickr Stream, an amazing set of over a million images from British Library held material, free for anyone to use, remix and re-purpose.
Whilst dining in our home made cat café we listened to:
Other activities which might work well alongside reading Poppy’s Place include:
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Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of this book by the publisher.