The Blue Cat

The Second World War rumbles ominously in the background of this intriguingly conceived and delicately phrased narrative. Depicted from the perspective of a precocious young girl named Columba, Australia in 1942 is a kaleidoscope of the trivial, the historic, and the evocative. Columba filters her understanding of what is happening on the world stage through the immediate concerns of her neighbourhood, her friendships, and the fleeting figure of the blue cat who gives the novel its title. The mystery which this unexpected feline carries with it mirrors Columba’s feelings about a Jewish refugee named Ellery who has come to her school, and with whom she forms a friendship. Their encounters with soldiers, air raid drills, and the beguiling world of adults give the narrative a simultaneously warm-hearted and disconcerting feel.

Young readers will love this book for the loose ends it fearlessly leaves in its wake, and its unpatronising ability to see its world through the eyes of children. Adults will find themselves captivated by the surefooted and realistic psychology of the story, as well as the beautifully rendered poetic language which Dubosarsky employs with unaffected tenderness. This is a story about loss, the confusing way of the world, muted peril and foreboding, human kinship across cultural barriers, and the sustained beauty of things even in a time of war and global hostility. A rare gem of a book.