A Cat Called Trim, Corinne Fenton, illustrated by Craig Smith, Allen and Unwin, 2019, ISBN 9781760631840, HB.
Continuing on with her love of animals and a love of history, Fenton has retold in her own unique way another real life story, this one is about the famous explorer Matthew Flinders’ cat, Trim.
Trim’s life of adventure began when he was born on board the sailing ship ‘HMS Reliance’ in 1799.
Fenton weaves a story of an individual, much likes his master, that is “…more courageous, mischievous and fearless…”than his siblings and as such took the eye of the famous explorer, or as Fenton infers Flinders took the eye of Trim!
While sailing between Botany Bay and Moreton Bay Trim is taken care of by a kind Aboriginal Australian Bongaree, but overall Trim is looked after by Flinders.
Trim experiences many things in his life: from falling overboard, surviving a shipwreck, living in a house for a time and then finally sharing Flinders’ imprisonment at the Isle de France.
Trim’s tale mirrors that of his master with the added perspective from a mischievous cat whose job it was to take care of the mice found on board the ships he sailed upon.
Smith does a wonderful illustrating job, fleshing out Fenton’s text, adding humour as well as excellent detail; perhaps my favourite double page spread was the afternoon tea at the home of the ‘…kind lady.’’
I like the vignettes Smith has put in the corners of pages that indicate what ship or other vessel Trim is travelling in, I found it helped when following both the written journey and the detailed maps found on the end papers.
There is a great deal of history recounted in this book. I did go to Google to flesh out one of the pieces, the reference to Bongaree as I wanted to know a little more about who he was and found a reference to him here.
Once again a terrific retelling of a true story. Children, particularly older ones, will get a lot from this story.