I am so pleased that Michelle Harrison is bringing her special brand of magic to a brand new series of first chapter books for newly confident readers. This first instalment was born out of her love for often unwanted black cats. Make sure you read Michelle’s piece about why black cats are so magical.
When Midnight’s mother gives birth to three kittens on a dark, frosty night, she immediately knows that Midnight is different to the others. With her mischievous green eyes and strange abilities, Midnight doesn’t fit in with the rest of her family. When they disappear during Midnight’s nap, she sets off to find herself a new home.
Luckily, Midnight is found by Trixie who persuades her father to let might stay at their house. But how will Trixie and her family react when they discover Midnight’s magical powers? 5+
A great read – full of fun and mischief but with moments of real emotion. The cheeky illustrations perfectly compliment the upbeat tone of the story. I can’t wait to see what comes next.
‘Why Black Cats Are Magic’ by Michelle Harrison.
My love of black cats began with the Gobbolino stories by Ursula Moray Williams, which I had on audiobook as a child. I was fascinated by the little black kitten with one white paw and blue eyes, and his wicked sister, Sootica. To me, black cats have embodied magic, mystery, adventure – and of course, Halloween – ever since. But why the association with all things spooky, as well as witches and luck?
Historically the colour black has long been linked to death and mourning, which could explain why some cultures believe black cats signal bad luck. In Greek mythology, Zeus’s wife Hera transformed her servant into a black cat as a punishment (although in some versions this is a weasel). The cat went on to serve Hecate, goddess of spells and sorcery. Perhaps this is where the idea of black cats as witches’ familiars and the link to shape-shifting originates.
On the other hand, the Egyptian goddess Bast is positively depicted as a symbol of protection and often takes the form of a black cat. Similarly, sailors are said to have welcomed black cats onboard as they were believed to bring prosperity and safe passage. In Western culture black cats populate good luck cards, and it’s seen as fortunate for one to cross your path.
As an owner (or servant) of black cats* it saddens me that they’re frequently last to be homed from animal shelters. Cats Protection states that black (and black and white) cats make up around half of all the cats in their care and wait much longer for a home than the average cat. They list superstition as a possible reason for this.
In books, however, there’s no shortage of black cats or the desire to read about them. Midnight is not the first to feature in my own stories; my novel The Other Alice features an enchanted black cat called Tabitha, and in my recent Widdershins Adventures series there’s a cranky black catcalled ‘Oi’. Many readers will of course know Slinky Malinki, Six Dinner Sid, and Meg and Mog, all of which pave the way for the cats of Carbonel, Coraline, and Edgar Allan Poe’s The Black Cat. It’s safe to say that as Midnight joins the ranks of her literary contemporaries it’s clear that the enigmasurrounding black cats endures, and continues to inspire both writers and readers as much as ever. That in itself is magic.
*Written with a black cat on my lap
I also have very fond memories of listening to Gobbolino on a story cassette. I always felt desperately sorry for the little kitten.
*Many thanks to Little Tiger Press for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour*