Kitty and the Twilight Trouble
by Paula Harrison and Jenny Løvlie, Oxford Children's Books
I'm trying to encourage my eldest child to be more interested in reading independently and when I heard about the Kitty series, it sounded ideal. The females in my family, including my kids, are all cat-mad. As one of our favourite picture books is also illustrated by Jenny Løvlie (The Girls), this looked perfect. This story is actually too advanced for the 5.5-year-old just yet - she is only at the "first reader" stage at the moment. As all the first readers we've found so far are extremely dull, she is not particularly enthusiastic about learning to read by herself. Since this book arrived, she has been carrying it around, looking at the pictures, and saying she is going to read it when she is "bigger." So, although she's not quite ready for the series, Kitty is still helping my eldest to become more excited about reading (hurray!).
Kitty and the Twilight Trouble is a gorgeous book. It's the eighth title in the Kitty collection but can be read as a stand-alone adventure. Kitty is a little girl and a superhero-in-training, with feline superpowers. She can talk to cats and even has her own "cat crew" of feline friends.
In this story, a funfair comes to town, and so does a new cat, named Hazel. Kitty is enjoying the fair but feels sad because cat-crew member Pixie is only interested in spending time with Hazel. Kitty tries to befriend Hazel, but Hazel isn't fond of humans and is rude to Kitty.
This is a simple but powerful story. Although Kitty's friends are cats, the situation she finds herself in is one to which most children will relate. It's not unusual for a friend to find a new pal. It's also common for children to feel excluded like Kitty, and to be on the receiving end of cruel remarks such as those made by Hazel.
It's brilliant how this shows that just because Hazel says something, it doesn't make it true, and that Hazel's behaviour has nothing to do with Kitty. I love when Kitty's mother tells her, "Sometimes other people won't understand what you're trying to do, but that doesn't mean that you should give up." This is a fantastic book for helping children to navigate social situations and cope when they inevitably face similar problems.
Kindness and compassion play a huge part in the narrative. Despite Hazel's treatment of her, Kitty is as gentle and helpful to Hazel as she is to all the animals in the story. It's Kitty's goodwill which ultimately saves the day and her relationship with Pixie.
I love how Kitty uses empathy to see things from the perspective of the tiny bird who is in danger. Although Kitty has extraordinary abilities, her real super power is the kindness she shows to all the creatures she meets. This is something that all children can emulate and aspire towards.
Kitty and the Twilight Trouble emphasises the importance of connections with others as it concludes with the following statement: "It was wonderful to jump and climb and turn somersaults, but having good friends was really special too." We see how this is important to everyone, including those with exceptional powers, and that even superheroes can experience problems with friendships sometimes.
This book is fully illustrated and Jenny Løvlie's artwork is fabulous. The images are incredibly animated with a striking and atmospheric colour palette. Kitty and the cats are adorable, and each page has a magical quality.
Paula Harrison's writing is beautiful and evocative. Sunlight "drifts through branches," moonlight "pours," and breezes "swirl." Chapters begin with lyrical opening lines like, "The moon smiled down on the city like a wise old face..."
Kitty and the Twilight Trouble is a wonderful story and we're delighted to have discovered the series. I will be getting the other seven titles in the collection so that my eldest (and youngest) can read them from the beginning, when the time is right. I'm looking forward to reading them too!
About the author:
Paula Harrison wanted to be a writer from a young age but spent many happy years being a primary school teacher first. She finds inspiration in lots of things from cloud shapes to snippets of conversation. Paula is also the author of the Red Moon Rising trilogy and the Rescue Princesses, Tiara Friends Mysteries, Secret Rescuers and Robyn Silver series.
About the illustrator:
Jenny Løvlie is a Norwegian illustrator based in Cardiff. Jenny loves using bold colours, interesting textures and strong shapes and is fascinated by the strong bond between humans and animals and humans and nature. See more books illustrated by Jenny.