Marshmallow Pie The Cat Superstar was already on my radar, because I’m always looking for new cat books, but what made me absolutely determined to get my paws on it was this illustration that Clara Vulliamy tweeted:
Now, I know I don’t share as many pictures over here as I do on Twitter, so in case you don’t know what my cat Tomte and I look like… here we are:
I shared this picture with Clara and, incredibly sweetly, she offered to send me copies of both Marshmallow Pie books so we could meet our doppelgangers! And having read them, I can tell you that any cat lover, or reader of joyously funny chapter books, needs to order both immediately!
Books: Marshmallow Pie the Cat Superstar, and Marshmallow Pie the Cat Superstar on TV, by Clara Vulliamy
Read before: No
Publication date: 6th August 2020.
Ownership: Review copies sent free of charge by author. All opinions my own.
These two books are an utter delight! Narrated by Marshmallow Marmaduke Vanilla-Bean Sugar-Pie Fluffington Fitz-Noodle himself, they tell the story of how one incredibly fluffy cat becomes an acting star with a little help from his human, Amelia. The voice is SO perfect – a little bit snooty, a little bit affectionate, and a whole lot fabulous – and is pretty much exactly how I imagine Tomte would speak. I can’t wait to read this aloud as a bedtime story, as it will be so much fun to do voices for. Pie’s personality zings from the page, and you can’t help but adore his smart, self-absorbed and funny nature. He will definitely become a much beloved character for any cat-loving kids and parents!
The illustrations also help build up the whole Pie picture, and whether he’s teasing the dog downstairs, showing the directors a bit of razzle-dazzle, or (shamefully!) playing like a kitten when no one can see him, he looks ready to leap into real life, fluff and all. His facial expressions are wonderfully cute and funny! His owners, Amelia and her dad, are also captured beautifully – the scenes where Pie snuggles up to Amelia (purely for her comfort, of course) are so full of love, and one of my favourite illustrations in the first book is Amelia and her dad desperately trying to keep their Chinese takeaway out of the reach of cat paws! There’s a drawing on almost every page, from full illustrations to small inter-paragraph details, and the text is really dynamic, with different fonts, placement and emphasis, so it’s lovely to look at too and should keep the attention of a young reader perfectly.
In the first book, Marshmallow Pie the Cat Superstar, we meet the characters and watch as Pie (and Amelia) go to their first audition. There’s something really fun about this kind of personal adventure – I won’t say low stakes, as the audition matters a lot to Amelia, and therefore to Pie, but they are quiet sort of stakes that affect them, not a world-changing adventure. I love this in children’s books, as it leaves space for really great characters rather than a whole lot of action set-pieces, and it’s nice to see Pie go from pretending to be aloof to making the effort to make Amelia happy. Kindness and consideration of others is always a nice theme to have. Plus there are plenty of laughs, as Pie’s escapades are hilarious both in text and illustration!
In the second book, Marshmallow Pie the Cat Superstar on TV, Pie has his next big booking – a TV advert that will bring his fabulous floofiness into homes across the country! Pie is horrified at having to share his limelight with a small orange kitten called Gingernut, who is cuteness personified, but quickly decides he’s going to ignore her and just demonstrate his own star quality. The chaos that ensues reminded me a little of the gentle zaniness of Mrs Pepperpot, who was an absolute favourite of my childhood – when Pie performs, like Mrs Pepperpot, he can’t help but put his own spin on things and cause a little bit of mischief. Of course, unlike that tiny old Norwegian lady, Pie’s escapades are uniquely cattish, and a few parts in particular will be incredibly funny to anyone who’s watched their own cat do the same! Here too, Pie has another lesson in considering the feelings of others, especially those of his co-star, and the story is heartwarming as well as hilarious.
At the end of the second book, Marshmallow Pie is headed to Hollywood, and I can’t believe I have to wait until February next year to continue his story in book three, Marshmallow Pie the Cat Superstar in Hollywood! I foresee a long and fabulous acting career for Pie, and I’ll be preordering every new instalment. These books are an absolute joy and perfect for those who love cats – Pie’s behaviour is so well observed, it’s sure to make any cat lover smile. And he himself has certainly become a new favourite of mine – I’m going to be recommending this to anyone who asks for kids’ recs for a long time. Five out of five (superstar) cats!