The PopCult Bookshelf
This week your PopCulteer is facing pressing deadlines and dealing with a nasty summer cold, so today he turns his blog over to Mrs. PopCulteer, Melanie Larch, for her review of a young reader’s book written by Wolfgang Parker, who has previously been lauded in PopCult as a musican and photographer.
Missing (Crime Cats, Volume 1)
Written and Illustrated by Wolfgang Parker
What happens when you mix missing pets, Halloween, a haunted house, a chicken costume, and an ordinary boy who discovers he has the ability to hear cats talk? When combined by the skillful hand of Wolfgang Parker, the result is the delightful mystery, “Missing,” the first book in his “Crime Cats” series.
Set in the Columbus area neighborhood of Clintonville, Ohio, “Missing” is the story of Jonas Shurmann, a likeable, average kid dealing with the familiar problems of childhood–being teased by his peers, anxieties about school, and his relationship with his parents.
Even though he helps out at his mom’s veterinary hospital after school, it turns out Jonas isn’t a fan of felines. He thinks cats are spoiled pets who don’t appreciate anything their humans do for them. Or so he thinks, until he discovers he has the ability to hear cats talk.
Armed with his newfound power, Jonas has a change of heart which leads him to befriend two local kitties–the one-eyed, gruff Neil Higgins and the affable CatBob. Together, the trio set out to find out why cats are disappearing all over Clintonville.
Parker has crafted a rollicking good adventure/mystery that will appeal to kids and adults alike. The book’s Halloween setting, (there’s more to that aforementioned chicken costume than meets the eye) complete with neighborhood haunted mansion, monster mentions, and a number of heart-pumping sequences where Jonas, Neil Higgins, and CatBob are pursued by a ferocious “Beast,” serves to enhance the story’s suspense without being too scary for younger readers.
Parker’s black and white illustrations, scattered throughout the book, add a visually appealing touch.
With a cast of likeable and engaging characters, “Missing (Crime Cats Volume 1)” is a must add to your personal library. Kids will find it easy to identify with Jonas while cat lovers of all ages will enjoy the diverse personalities Parker bestows on his feline cast.
There’s also two post-story sections with practical advice on “Meeting a Cat” and “Missing Cats” (the latter of which is particularly appropriate considering the book’s title). These “Tips to help you become a better cat friend” would be helpful to spark discussions with kids about responsible pet ownership and kindness toward animals.
It’s also worth noting that Parker is donating a portion of the profits from every new or digital sale of “Missing” to the Crime Cats Relief Fund, a private charity which issues grants to help with medical care expenses for South Clintonville’s community cats.
If you’re looking for a fun, spooky read to share with the kids in your life (or even your inner kid), then “Missing (Crime Cats Volume 1)” fits the bill “purr-fectly.”