Varjak Paw

ISBN: 1417738618
ISBN 13: 9781417738618
By: S.F. Said

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Genres

Animals Cats Children Childrens Currently Reading Fantasy Favorites Fiction To Read Young Adult

About this book

Mesopotamian Blue cat, Varjak Paw, has never been Outside before; he and his family have always lived in the isolated house at the top of the hill. But Varjak is forced out into the city when the sinister Gentleman and his two menacing cats take over his home. With help from his mystical ancestor, Jalal, Varjak manages to overcome challenges such as self-survival and a threat from the gangland cats, and he ultimately discovers the terrifying secrets behind the Vanishings. But can he save his own family from their fate? With wonderful integrated illustrations from acclaimed comic book artist Dave McKean, this book will appeal to all ages. "From the Hardcover edition."

Reader's Thoughts

Michele Velthuizen

Interest level: 5th +Reading level: mediumGenre: fantasy, adventure, animals, catsSeries: Varjak PawRead alikes: Warrior series by Erin HunterIf you like adventure or fantasy stories with animals in them you'll enjoy 'Varjak Paw'. Varjak, part of a family of Mesopotamian Blue Cats, has to leave the comforts of his home and venture out into the wild world in order to find help to save his fellow cats from an evil man who invaded their home. Interestingly, a form of martial arts plays a part in the story (Varjak learns old fighting skills from his ancestors during his dreams), and the sketches throughout the book give it a feel of a graphic novel. The illustrator of the book is Dave McKean - take a look at his neat sketches below and find out more about his drawings by going to the [ http://www.varjakpaw.com/ ]Varjak Paw website. The second book in the series is called "The Outlaw Varjak Paw".I named one of my cats after Varjak:-)

Althea Ann

I saw this book in the store, and the cat on the front cover was so adorable that I had to buy it for my sister. Of course, then I had to read it before giving it to her!This is definitely a kids' book - not even YA, but for younger children.However - it's also an excellent book. McKean's illustrations are perfect for the characters and the story.Varjak is a young Mesopotamian Blue cat who's been brought up to think he's something special. However, when his owner disappears and a strange and sinister man appears in his family's house, a dream connection with his legendary ancestor leads him to venture into the dangerous outside world, where he learns to reevaluate his priorities - as well as questing to save his family from the danger he's sure they're in.It's a sweet story - but it's also got some genuinely spooky elements - and it's definitely in the realm of the fantastic.Oh yeah, and did I mention how excellent Dave McKean's illustrations are? He rocks!

Nicholas

Join Varjak Paw as he leaves his comfortable home and ventures out into the big wide world in search of a dog to save his family and live up to the name of his ancestor, Jalal Paw. This coming-of-age tale throws together elements of Brian Jacques' Redwall and Dodie Smith's 101 Dalmatians for an adventure that will keep your attention for the duration of the story. Said does an excellent job of presenting characters that, while they are easily related to, clearly perceive the world in a different way than a human character would (and not just because everything seems huge from a cat's eye view). Their development, particularly Varjak's is swift, but not hurried, and their backgrounds are only filled in as much as is needed and not one iota further. The setting is quite generic and not well unfolded, but the story does not need it to be otherwise, since long-winded tracts of background material and description would probably serve only to put off the target audience. For those on the ball, however, there is one very obvious pointer as to what city the story is set in. Overall, therefore, this is a fine children's story, well worth obtaining for your child if they enjoy a good adventure. It's literate, challenging and engaging enough that they probably won't complain about having to practice their reading with it.

Kirsten

This is an entertaining novel, beautifully illustrated. It tells the story of one Varjak Paw, a cat from a noble line of Mesapotamian Blues. Varjak is a bit of an outcast in his family, what with his obsession with going Outside and his dislike of simply sitting around looking dignified. When the Countess (the owner of Varjak and his family) dies, a sinister man with two even more sinister black cats comes into the picture. Varjak must escape to the Outside, learn the cat martial arts, and return to save his family. The actual plot is not particularly strong, but it's a nicely creepy story, and the ideas behind it are very original.I re-read this because I'm planning on reading the sequel, The Outlaw Varjak Paw, and wanted to refresh my memory. Overall three stars seems a little weak for this book, and four seem to strong, so call it 3.5. Four stars for intriguing characters, overall idea, and illustrations, and three for plot and a very abrupt ending.

Aaron Campling

This thrilling story follows Varjak Paw, a Mesopotamian Blue cat living in the house of Contessa on top of a hill. His family bully and ignore him, and his eyes are the 'colour of danger'. Varjak Paw is successfully portrayed as different to everybody else (something that some children may be able to relate to), and soon becomes increasingly desperate to see the world outside of the Contessa's house, something he has never done. The Contessa soon becomes sick, and when a sinister man with two black cats comes onto the scene, Varjak is certain that the Contessa is dead. Varjak's desire to leave the house on the hill becomes reality when the Elder Paw, the head of the family, tells Varjak to journey to the outside and to bring back a dog to scare the man away. Eager to succeed, Varjak learns the way of Jalal, an ancient martial art passed down through his ancestors. S.F. Said's choice to mix cat behaviour with martial arts is really effective, whilst the beautiful illustrations by Dave McKean help bring the story to the next level.In the story, Varjak also learns about sacrifice, prejudice and how to build relationships, making this book ideal for discussion about feelings. Although the story is simple, it is fast-paced and had me gripped from start to finish. It's a pleasantly creepy story, and the mood is pretty dark a lot of the time. The ideas are very original and S.F. Said adds suspense sufficiently. Said's beautiful use of metaphors and similes make this literate, challenging and engaging enough for children, and the unpredictable ending will make this book very memorable.Although appealing to children, Varjak Paw has many qualities that a variety of ages would appreciate. With its dark nature, I feel that it would not be appropriate for very young children, however this is a fantastic choice for children that love a creepy adventure!

Dox

This was a well written, mythos-styled story. There is some annoying repetition in the story, but I think it is only annoying for an adult, and would work to good effect for the intended audience (children). As the story is told through Varjack Paw's point of view, there are some questions left unanswered, and some parts of the story seem unrealistic (even given acceptance of the thinking-talking cat scenario). My favorite character would be Cludge, who is the dog, and a hero, in the story. In a book full of cats, I suppose that may or may not mean something.

Terilin

This is a family favorite. Shey especially loves that he's on the cover. This truly is a fantastic read even if you're not a cat person. There's a dog in this story too!

Rhian Loxley

Varjak Paw is a Mesopotamium Blue kitten, living in a house on top of a hill, he has never left the high walls that surround the Contessa's garden. His family are happy to recline in the knowledge that a strange man will feed them caviar, as they admire their own handsome pedigree. Varjak however is bored, an outcast, unlike his siblings his name doesn't begin with J and he has eyes the colour of danger - he is desperate to see the world outside of the contessa's house. Armed with the wise words of Elder paw, Varjak learns the way of Jalal an ancient marshall art passed down through his ancestors.I am currently reading this book with my 3c guided reading group. A great text for inference and discussion about feelings. Varjak is bullied by his siblings and ends up entering in to a dark world of gangs and danger. I read this over 2 nights and thoroughly enjoyed it and the story really engaged my group from the very beginning.I am looking forward to reading the next installment, The Outlaw Varjak Paw!

Marsha

Drawing a tale of adventurous animals that calls to mind such a classic as “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi”, “Varjak Paw” is a thrilling story of feline martial arts and mysterious happenings in the Big City. Leaving one’s comfort zone, learning new ways, opening up to new experiences and people are all the rather unsubtle messages given here but none of that detracts from a straightforward writing style that ropes in the reader and brings you careening through this amazing story. This book was so good I actually read it in one sitting. The illustrations by Dave McKean are particularly excellent, reducing cats to their pure essence as sleek creatures of fur, muscle, claws and bone with each cat distinct in coloring and character. His spare, angular drawing style is not for everyone but fans of his work will appreciate seeing it here.

karen

first, let's focus on the artwork, because i saw this cover somewhere and i knew that i needed to read this book, no matter what its contents. i really do love dave mckean. he has been responsible for some of my favorite jonathan carrol covers, and the man just really knows how to draw cats.he manages to get cat mannerisms down perfectly with such an economy of line - i love it. the only person whose cats even come close, and with a totally different tone is jeffrey brown:he gets all the cute stuff - mckean settles for the slinky, creepy, dangerous cats.fortunately for me, the book is also very good. it is the story of a purebred housecat who goes on a mission to find a "dog" in order to rescue his family from a bad man with two seriously bad cats who have taken over the house. along the way he learns some ancient secret cat fighting tricks in order to survive on the streets and meets some cat gangs and learns about the ways a cat can just go missing on the streets...said does a good job of juxtaposing the pet cats with the feral ones; the stakes of each and their own particular values and mythologies. and now i am off to read the sequel!!

Sophie Mc

'Varjak Paw' by S.F.Said is a great read for children studying at KS2. The story follows the main character Varjak who had always lived an easy life up until he was forced out of his home by the Gentleman and his two horrible cats. As the story unravels we learn about Varjak's struggle to come to terms with living, and more importantly, surviving on the streets. We inevitably read about how Varjak comes up against rival gangs and of the battles he faces against them. At times the story can be quite scary and raw and it most definitely grabs the reader as you are forever wanting to find out what will happen next. This book is great to use as the main focus of a scheme of work within Literacy, yet it also lends itself to cross curricular learning in Science, Art, PSHE and many other subjects. A highly recommended read.

Kelsey Hoban

Varjak Paw is a unique and thrilling chapter book about a very unique culture of cats that go on adventures. This great book is about a kitten that finds himself on an amazing adventure. He is told by his grandfather to go into the city and is taught the different cat martial arts while exploring and adventuring through the new city. I loved this book because it brigs different cultures and species together into one interesting and awesome story. This book takes you on the adventure with the characters and makes you want to be there with them. I thought this book would be good for the upper elementary ages and the middle school ages. It is chapter book so a good reader needs to be the one reading this. But the themes and plot are simple enough for a skilled but young reader to enjoy. THis isn't s a book I would read to my classroom because I am not sure all students would enjoy it.

Todd

IF YOU LIKED THIS TRY...

Valu99

That his brother call him insect and he saw two cats and two men coming in the contessa is house this is what I know.

Charlotte Jones

‘Varjak Paw’ was a book that I owned when I was a lot younger, read it but didn’t remember any of it. Leena from justkissmyfrog on Youtube talked about ‘Phoenix’ by the same author and mentioned this so she inspired me to seek out a copy of ‘Varjak Paw’! I found a second-hand copy in a charity shop for 49p and definitely couldn’t leave it there.This is a children’s book and so the print is on the large side and there are illustrations throughout. I loved the illustrations and will do a separate blog post about the illustrator, Dave McKean. The story follows Varjak Paw, an outsider in his own family, who leaves home to learn a secret martial art for cats. It is written in third person but focusses on the cats so it is a unique perspective compared to other things I have read.As an older reader I do find it difficult sometimes to read children’s books so I read this slowly as and when I felt like it. Having said that, I did get really hooked into the story and read most of it in one day in the end, after days of just reading a few pages at a time. The illustrations and the production of this book was definitely part of that. The pages are all black and white but there are variations within this book; most pages are the usual black text on white paper, but there are pages with white text on black, black text on grey and shaped text around images. It makes it a lot more enjoyable to read and although the majority of pages are full text, some are mostly illustration with only a few lines of text. This definitely highlights different parts of the plot and plays with the reader’s emotions more than it would without the images.“There are Seven Skills in the Way of Jalal,” whispered the Elder Paw, “We know only three of them. Their names are these. Slow-Time. Moving Circles. Shadow-Walking.”I found the lessons that Varjak learnt to be very interesting and even though the characters in this are mostly cats, I think that a few of the lessons would translate to people too.Overall this book was beautifully written with illustrations that really bound it all together well. Although it is a children’s book, I would thoroughly recommend it to older readers too, especially if you like reading children’s fiction. ‘Varjak Paw’ unfolds slightly like a martial arts film but with a coming-of-age twist that I really enjoyed. The ending was unexpectedly dark and a little creepy but definitely tied in well with the rest of the novel and wrapped everything up nicely. I didn’t realise until I finished it that this is the first in a series but I think that I will definitely be looking out for the second, even though, thankfully, this would still make a great standalone.

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