Cover image for The cat at the wall
Title:
The cat at the wall
Author:
Ellis, Deborah, 1960- , author.
Publication Information:
Toronto, Ontario : Groundwood Books, 2014.

©2014
Physical Description:
152 pages ; 20 cm
Summary:
A cat sneaks into a small Palestinian house on the West Bank that has been commandeered by two Israeli soldiers. The house seems empty, until the cat realizes that a little boy is hiding beneath the floorboards. Should she help him? After all, she's just a cat. Or is she? She was once a regular North American girl, but that was before she died and came back to life as a cat. When the little boy is discovered, the soldiers don't know what to do with him. It is not long before his teacher and classmates come looking for him, and the house is suddenly surrounded by Palestinian villagers throwing rocks, and the sound of Israeli tanks approaching. As the soldiers begin to panic and disaster seems certain, the cat knows that it is up to her to diffuse the situation. But what can a cat do? What can any one creature do?
Language:
English
Reading Level:
680 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.8 4.0 168927.
ISBN:
9781554987078

9781554984916
Format :
Book

Available:*

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Summary

Summary

A cat sneaks into a small Palestinian house on the West Bank that has just been commandeered by two Israeli soldiers. The house seems empty, until the cat realizes that a little boy is hiding beneath the floorboards.

Should she help him?

After all, she's just a cat.

Or is she?

It turns out that this particular cat is not used to thinking about anyone but herself. She was once a regular North American girl who only had to deal with normal middle-school problems -- staying under the teachers' radar, bullying her sister and the uncool kids at school, outsmarting her clueless parents.

But that was before she died and came back to life as a cat, in a place with a whole different set of rules for survival.

When the little boy is discovered, the soldiers don't know what to do with him. Where are the child's parents? Why has he been left alone in the house? It is not long before his teacher and classmates come looking for him, and the house is suddenly surrounded by Palestinian villagers throwing rocks, and the sound of Israeli tanks approaching.

Not my business, thinks the cat. And then she sees a photograph, and suddenly she understands what happened to the boy's parents, and why they have not returned. And as the soldiers begin to panic, and disaster seems certain, she knows that it is up to her to diffuse the situation.

But what can a cat do? What can any one creature do?


Author Notes

DEBORAH ELLIS is the author of more than two dozen books, including The Breadwinner, which has been published in twenty-five languages and was recently adapted into a feature-length animated film and a graphic novel. She has won the Governor General's Literary Award, the Middle East Book Award, the Peter Pan Prize, the Jane Addams Children's Book Award and the Vicky Metcalf Award for a Body of Work. She has received the Ontario Library Association's President's Award for Exceptional Achievement, and she has been named to the Order of Canada. She has donated almost $2 million in royalties to organizations such as Women for Women in Afghanistan, UNICEF and Street Kids International.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Pretty, smart, manipulative, and spoiled, Clare is a mean girl growing up in Pennsylvania. She meets her match in Ms. Zero, her eighth-grade teacher, who makes her copy Max Ehrmann's poem Desiderata. Then Clare dies and miraculously comes back as a scrawny cat living on the West Bank. One day, feline Clare follows two Israeli soldiers as they slip into a small, empty Palestinian house and discovers a small Arab boy hiding there. The soldiers are worried about the welfare of the child, whose only words are from Desiderata, which he endlessly recites. Clare's revealing story alternates between flashbacks to her embattled year with Ms. Zero and the present escalating crises, as the local people discover the soldiers and surround the house. There are no black and whites here, only ordinary people caught in the tangle of history, misunderstanding, and fear. The self-centered Clare provides an effective entry point for young readers into the murky waters of this tragic conflict. Ellis' intriguing, unusual tale should give readers much to think about both on the domestic and international fronts.--Rutan, Lynn Copyright 2014 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

"The best thing about being a cat is that nothing is my fault," says 13-year-old Clare, who died in Bethlehem, Pa., and has been reincarnated as a cat in another Bethlehem-the one in the West Bank. As a human girl, Clare taunted her sister, manipulated her parents, and butted heads with her homeroom teacher; these and other memories are triggered by Clare's current situation, as the narrative nimbly jumps between past and present. In Israel, Clare witnesses the horrors of life in a war zone on both sides of the "Big Wall." Her life mainly consists of foraging for food until two soldiers with the Israel Defense Forces-one American, one Israeli, and each with his own motives for being in the army and beliefs about the conflict-commandeer a Palestinian house to do surveillance on a neighboring building; Clare decides to help the traumatized boy hiding in the house. Ellis's (No Ordinary Day) premise is an unusual one, but with it she crafts a thought-provoking and sensitive story about the power of empathy and selflessness. Ages 9-12. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


School Library Journal Review

Gr 5 Up-Clare was a girl from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. At 13, she dies and finds herself transformed into a cat, living in Bethlehem, Israel. As a girl, she always wanted to be the center of attention, so being an ignored stray seems cruel. She follows two Israeli soldiers into a seemingly empty house on the West Bank. As the situation escalates with the discovery of a young Palestinian boy, Clare reflects on her actions during her last year of life as a human. Set on Israel's West Bank, the harsh reality of the story is tempered by the first-person narration of a cat who understands all languages. Ellis is neutral; she doesn't take sides, nor does she attempt to explain the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Instead, the miscommunication and actions of the individual characters are examined. The characters' complexities are slowly revealed, adding layers to the story. Readers are plunged into the narrative, in the same way Clare must face her new feline life. The narrative alternates between the present on the West Bank and flashbacks to Clare's life as a human. The pacing is appropriately measured, and the setting is vividly described-concisely but evocatively conveying tension, unease, and instability. Although slightly homiletical, the moral of personal responsibility is wrapped in a touching, unforgettable story. It is an excellent choice for book clubs and classroom use, and will easily evoke discussion.- Amy Seto Musser, Denver Public Library (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.