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Book Review: Finnigan the Circus Cat

Finnigan the Circus Cat. Mary T Wagner. Waterhorse Press, June 2, 2016, Trade Paperback and E-book, 160 pages.

Reviewed by U. A. Hall.

Finnigan The Circus Cat is the story of a high-flying, amazing cat; raised by mice in an old barn that houses a circus museum, he learns that families come in all shapes and sizes.

Max and Leroy are circus mice. They spend their days eating leftovers from the kitchen of Old Man Farnsworth and laying around napping in the sun. One day, a family moves in, and very quickly, their relaxed world is turned upside down. They gain a new friend, Boomer the dog, and they love the leftover scraps from him. Max and Leroy don't think their new lifestyle will be all that bad until the daughter, Lucy, sneaks a baby kitten into the barn. Max doesn't like this at all. As he says, "A cat was a cat was a cat."

Luckily for the kitten, Leroy takes a liking to him, and, with the help of Max and Boomer, names him Finnigan. Finnigan loves his home and doesn't worry too much about why he has to live in the barn. Amongst the old circus equipment, he plays, pounces, and laps up cream given to him by Lucy. His life is pretty carefree.

Godfrey and Hector, the neighborhood cats, are known to gobble up mice when they get the chance. When Leroy gets into trouble, it's up to Finnigan to save his family and prove that he really is a circus cat.

Max and Leroy reminded me so much of the dynamic of Timon and Pumbaa: taking on a lion cub that would grow up to be on their 'side.' Max always has all the ideas—or at least he thinks he does—and Leroy is big and sweet and actually comes up with some of their better plans. Leroy eats as much as Templeton the Rat yet hates being called a rat.

Finnigan the Circus Cat is a perfect chapter book for reading out loud. The chapters are short, and the larger print will give children the confidence they need as beginning readers. This is a short read, which also makes it a pick for reluctant readers. As the series continues, it would be nice to see more pictures, and to see Finnigan's personality start to shine. Right now, Max's personality dominates the story since he is the narrator. Finnigan the Circus Cat is full of circus history, amusing dialogue, and simple drawings. Overall, it is a fun story.


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