Book review: The Nine Lives of Jacob Tibbs, by Cylin Busby, illustrated by Gerald Kelley

Busby, Cylin. The Nine Lives of Jacob Tibbs. Illus. Gerald Kelley. Knopf, 2016. $16.99. 272p. 9780553511239. Ages 9-12. P9Q9

Busby Nine Lives of Jacob TibbsAdventures, sea journeys, and cat lore meld in this exciting tale about a runt feline orphaned on a merchant ship in 1847. He’s just learning his trade when the captain, seriously wounded during a storm, and three of the crew are cast off in a long boat because the second in command doesn’t want to take the captain back to Liverpool for medical care. Historical and nautical detail add to the exciting perils during storms at sea, Jacob Tibb’s education in killing first rats and then a venomous snake, and the possibility that the three surviving men will end up in prison. The characters may come off a bit stereotyped, but after all the narrator is a young cat! A great romp and quality read-aloud made more delightful by the full-page black and white illustrations. Busby’s foray into middle-school fiction promises more good reads.

April 2016 review by Nel Ward.


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