The Clydeside Cats is Sandra Lane’s collection of short stories focused on six different cats and their adventures in places along the River Clyde in Scotland.
Lane names each cat after a color—Rhuari Red Cat, Olivia Orange Cat and so on—and each story focuses on a cat leaving its comfort zone, as when Ya Yellow Cat hides in her owner Janey’s bag so that she can attend Janey’s dance class with her, or when Rhuri Red Cat ventures outside of his shed to see if he can catch some food. (The story about Bobby Blue Cat is an exception, exploring the cat’s attempt to catch fish to serve at tea, in order to please his cat friends.)
The cats are each sympathetic characters and young readers will relate to their triumphs and setbacks on their adventures. The writing is simple, yet contains fun moments, as when Bobby Blue Cat, trying to figure out how to solve his problem, repeatedly asks himself, “What to do, what to do, what to do?”
There are, however a few issues that might affect reader enjoyment. In the opening story about Rhuari Red Cat, the young cat hurries home to its mother who has caught a mouse for supper. Although cats eating mice is a reality of nature, some young readers may find it unsettling to read about. Also, the text is dense for a picture book, and may prove daunting for early readers. Perhaps the biggest drawback is the illustrations. While colorful, they are drawn crudely, as if by a child. This greatly detracts from the book’s professionalism.
Nonetheless, the stories are sweetly told and will easily carry readers along. Children who love cats will find rewards here, despite the noted weaknesses.
Also available as an ebook.