Friday, August 22, 2014

Review: Paws in the Piazza - Jerilyn McIntyre

A copy of was provided by the author
in exchange for
an honest review
Paws in the Piazza by Jerilyn McIntyre
Genre: Middle Grade, animal fiction
Published on December 11, 2013
Published by Bristlecone Books
Pages: 96
Read From: 8.20.14 - 8.20.14

"Back home, I was content to be just an ordinary house cat. I didn't get out much. But it's different here in Venice." 
How different? Harley quickly finds out after his family arrives in Italy. 
He takes up with a group of local cats who roam wild in the alleys and neighborhoods of Venice, and meets the mysterious Angela, a beautiful white Angora who steals his heart. Then he becomes embroiled in a fierce and ongoing war between his friends and a rival band of cats, and discovers the magical order that underlies life in the enchanting and historic city that is his new home.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? I do like the cover art. It's very simplistic, but pleasing and whimsical.

Characters: For such a short book - not even 100 pages - I got attached to some of the cats relatively quickly and deeply. Harley was a decent protagonist, who wasn't looking for trouble or to fulfill any great destiny. But he accepts his role in the history of the Venetian cats and does what needs to be done. Then there's Harley's friends Scruffy, Fatty, and the others - all very likable. We don't really get to know Angela all that well, sadly.

The Romance: Oh yes, the attraction between Harley and Angela is very quick indeed. But this is only a 93-page book. So I didn't mind it.

Plot: Harley's family has moved to Venice while Harley's owner attends school there. Before now, Harley was content to be an average housecat, but the magic of Venice is starting to do its work on him. And then Harley meets Angela - a gorgeous Angora who seems to be frightened of Harley every time they meet. There's more to Angela than Harley's new cat friends are saying, and Harley is determined to find out what. As he digs deeper into Venice history, he learns of the unique history cats have played in Venetian culture - and how that role has not died even today. Paws in the Piazza is a quick, fun, and cute little story filled with classic Venetian magic and mystery. I enjoyed following Harley along his adventures, as he learned about the Venetian cat society, the important role doge cats have played, and the magic of Venice unfolded - from a giant winged lion to a strange man who seems to disappear into thin air. There's not a dull moment.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: First person, present tense. The style was, at times, a little stilted and had lots of choppy sentences. But overall, it wasn't bad. Harley's narration voice worked very well for story - including the present tense. And the Author captured Venice through the eyes of a cat very well.

Content: None.

Conclusion: It's perhaps a little anticlimactic, but I did love how it had an open ending. Harley's life is now full and possibilities and magic; who knows what will happen next! Paws in the Piazza was a nice break from the longer novels I've been reading lately. It was a nice dose of Venetian magic towards the end of summer, a reminder of what it's like to be a kid reading stories like this. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-boy read, seven-and-up, fans of animal fiction stories.

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