Seafurrers

Meet Bart! He's the indispensable narrator of this 'incidental history'.

It helps that Bart is also a cat, given that this book is all about felines who took to sea, mapping the world with their seafaring buddies, while lapping up the broths and whatever other scraps the sailors shared with them.

Cats and ships may seem an unlikely mix - until you realise that in the early days of world exploration, supplies were kept in sacks not cold rooms, and mice and rats would board at every port, confident of fine dining while at sea. Cats were the obvious answer to this problem, and they were more than happy to carry out a spot of hunting on the journey.

Many people know about Trim, the cat who circumnavigated Australia with Matthew Flinders. He even has a memorial at Sydney's State Library, but few have heard of Mrs Chippy or Simon or Red Lead, Thomas Whiskers, Tabby or Maizie.

Each of these, and the many others that Bart introduces, had different roles. Some sensed danger before the crew did, others provided company, some became mascots. The stories vary enormously from tear-jerking to hilarious, to simply - Wow!

More than anything this unique book will underline how vital are animal friends to humans in times of fear or war or loneliness.

Clever and innovative as Bart is, he still needed humans to put this book together, and he showed his wisdom yet again, choosing Philippa Sandall, a well-known editor, as his scribe, and Ad Long to mastermind the illustrations. After all, as any cat-owner knows, felines are excellent at delegating!

Deceptively small, this book offers so much. It is excellently researched historically, as the many pages of notes at the back confirm, yet its stye (take a bow, Bart!) is light and entertaining, making it an ideal gift or purchase for everyone. Read it straight through, dip into any of the 38 'Incidents', read the stories aloud to the children, this book is one to keep and value. 

According to Bart: 'Sailors and sea cats became shipmates.' This book invites readers to hop on board too, and get behind the scenes, as never before, via the forgotten heros and heroines - the Seafurrers.

~~~

Seafurrers, the ships' cats who lapped and mapped the world, by Philippa Sandall, published by Affirm Press, 2018, rrp A$24.95, hardcover, pictures by Ad Long.

- reviewed by Sally Hammond

~~~

About the Author

Philippa Sandall is co-creator of seafurrers website as well as editor of the University of Sydney Human Nutrition Unit's GI News newsletter, which has more than 120,000 subscribers worldwide. She is also co-author, with Jennie Brand-Miller, of several books in the New York Times bestselling New Glucose Revolution series. A longtime book editor, she now runs her own editorial consulting agency, Philippa Sandall Publishing Services, in New South Wales, Australia. 


Ad Long, an illustrator and author, illustrates for the seafurrers website. He recently published a crime novel, Too Greedy to Live, and is a regular commentator on The Guardian, where he shares his thoughts on such topics as religion, art, and politics. He lives in Sydney, Australia.

See also Seafurrers Facebook page...

 

 

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