Dancing Paws of Magic by Maria McArdle

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Dancing Paws of Magic by Maria McArdle

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Z J Cookson
Reviewed by Z J Cookson
Summary: A story based on a delightful concept that is likely to appeal to many girls in the target audience (around 8-12 year olds) with truly beautiful illustrations that alone justify the book's cover price.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 208 Date: March 2017
Publisher: Matador
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1788036870

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Dancing Paws of Magic offers us almost two related stories in one. Part One focuses on the problems that arise when the dancing cats of the Pusska Mogginsky Ballet Company go on strike. There is only one feline who can put things right but sadly the lepremog (the cat equivalent of a leprechaun) Galway O-Toot is dead, crushed by a falling wall. If the animal ballet is to be saved, the remaining members of the ballet company must work together to find his bones and restore his life even if this means taking on the Black Treacle Farm Gang. In Part Two, we move on to the long-awaited performance of The Sleeping Beauty. Here everything seems to be going just purr-fectly until the Black Treacle Farm Gang – including Gang Leader Bruiser Bumfluff – appear to get their revenge.

A ballet company of animals who practice and perform in secret at night is a delightful concept that is likely to appeal to many girls in the target audience (around 8-12 year olds). The story is largely written in an unusual style which combines an all-knowing narrator (a point of view that has largely fallen out of fashion) with the present tense that is most commonly associated with contemporary Young Adult fiction. However, in general, this works well with the present tense adding a real immediacy for the reader.

There is a large cast of characters with some wonderfully inventive names. My personal favourite has to be the crotchety old feline battle-axe Madam Purdy Puckers-Moggs who insists on interfering at every opportunity and relentlessly bosses around her poor companion, Miss Truelove. I have to admit that the sheer number of characters and names did make it quite hard to always keep track of who was who but that doesn't really matter as the story itself is clear and easy to follow. The book also contains a couple of helpful reference lists of characters but sadly I found it less easy to flick back and check these as I was reading on my Kindle.

There are some wonderful asides to the story: I particularly enjoyed the fun way author, Maria McArdle, deftly summarises some of the main plot developments in the witty gossip columns that are dotted throughout the story. I also adored the details she includes - most especially the explanation of how the audience enter the Crypt Theatre via magical shapeshifter turnstiles which temporarily transform the various animals to allow them to enjoy the performance. (For example, by turning feathers into fingers so they can hold their popcorn and ices and flip through their souvenir brochures.)

While the story is appealing it's totally overshadowed by the truly beautiful illustrations. The pictures alone probably justify the cover price of the book. Like the story they tend towards the 'classic' style but I personally prefer these and I challenge any reader not to fall in love with the characters in these pictures. They look wonderful in black and white but, to appreciate their true magnificence, I'd definitely recommend that you check out the full colour pictures on the author's website.

If you enjoyed this, you're also likely to enjoy Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild or, if you'd like something similar but less focused on ballet, why not try White Boots by Noel Streatfeild.

Buy Dancing Paws of Magic by Maria McArdle at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Dancing Paws of Magic by Maria McArdle at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Dancing Paws of Magic by Maria McArdle at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Dancing Paws of Magic by Maria McArdle at Amazon.com.


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