Queen Narelle by Sally Murphy

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From one of the Australian queens of the verse novel comes this touching story of the special relationship between Maddie and her cat, Narelle. Told from alternating perspectives, first Narelle, then Maddie and then back and forth, the reader is treated to the very different ways the world is viewed by both, but also to how they interact and how precious they are to each other. Narelle is a stereotypical standoffish cat who believes that she is the centre of the universe: 'My people have placed my throne just so, where the morning sunlight can worship and stroke me as I recline on my velvet cushion waiting for my local (and not so loyal) subjects to come and worship.' Narelle explains how her view of the world is different to that of a human; 'And they do not see the midnight dreams that disturb My Maddie, making her toss and turn in bed. But I see it all.' When Maddie introduces herself she admits that her family all think Narelle is a family pet but 'I know- and Narelle knows, too - that she is mine... She might be a cat but she is my best friend too and, suddenly, my only friend.' Her friendship group has fallen apart and now she feels isolated and targeted by their bullying. 

Narelle's chapters provide a lovely peaceful interlude to the horrible experience that Maddie is undergoing at school. Her family, distracted by daily routines and the normal business of life are blind to Maddie's inner turmoil. And Maddie is quite sure they are too busy to want to hear about her problems. Maddie's experiences will resonate with so many children and their friendship struggles and their reluctance to talk with their trusted adults about what is happening for them. Only Narelle, with her silence and warm body, can comfort Maddie in her time of need. Eventually, with Narelle's help, Maddie does turn to her mum and her world starts to brighten. But always Narelle is there, a steady warm presence as she navigates the ups and downs of life. 

Beautiful black and white illustrations are scattered throughout the short novel, which is perfect for independent or shared reading. 

Themes: Cats, Family Relationships, Friendship.

Nicole Nelson