Paws and Whiskers

As its title suggests, this is a book which celebrates dogs and cats and the literature in which they feature. It is published in association with the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home which will benefit from its royalties. Wilson has brought together stories, one of which she wrote specifically for the collection, and extracts from novels spanning 200 years from writers as disparate as the indomitable Mrs Sherwood, Noel Streatfeild and Patrick Ness. There is also a section devoted to the memories of canine and feline associates of a number of children’s authors including Joan Aiken and Adèle Geras.


While containing some classic works, Philippa Pearce’s A Dog so Small and Dodie Smith’s The Hundred and One Dalmatians, for instance, Wilson’s choices are both interesting and at times surprising. She quotes from the fiction of two adult novelists, Charles Dickens and Anne Tyler, and even extracts from more predictable contributors often carry an element of the unexpected. Lewis Carroll is represented not by the Cheshire Cat, as might be supposed, but by the opening of Through the Looking Glass which features Alice and her black kitten; an altogether more Romantic option.


The attractiveness of the volume owes much to Wilson’s sidekick, the illustrious illustrator Nick Sharratt. His metallic burgundy jacket suggests the diversity within as it sports numbers of assorted breeds of domestic animal, more of which can be glimpsed through the three port-holes which lead to the rich royal-blue cover, festooned with heads of pets and owners, one of the latter looking suspiciously like Jacqueline Wilson herself.