The first Jasper and Scruff book was a delightful story of two oddly-matched friends, and I couldn’t wait to read another of their adventures!
Book: Jasper and Scruff Take a Bow by Nicola Colton
Read before: No
Publication date: 9th February 2021
Ownership: E-ARC sent free of charge by author. All opinions my own.
In the first book of this series we saw how Jasper, a clever cat who likes things to be tidy and calm, became best friends with his total opposite, a messy dog named Scruff, who creates chaos wherever he goes. I really enjoyed the first book (my review is here!) but somehow missed the second instalment, The Hunt for the Golden Bone. Still, I’m pleased to report that while I will definitely be tracking it down, you can hop on into this third book, Take A Bow, without any confusion. Here, Jasper and Scruff are entering a talent show! Jasper wants to show off his acting, but Scruff was hoping they’d do a magic show together – can the two friends find a compromise that will blow the judges away? And can they stop the snooty Sophisticats from cheating their way to the top of the competition?
This is such a lovely little read – it’s the perfect length for newly-confident readers, or for a quick burst of fun! Every page is illustrated, and I love the muted colour palette, which focuses mostly on oranges and purples and is very effective at drawing the eye while feeling cohesive. There’s a real energy to the drawings, especially where Scruff is concerned – he’s a scribbly ball of fur going every which way! Both Jasper and Scruff have wonderful facial expressions that will definitely make kids laugh along with them; Lady Catterly, too, the leader of the Sophisticats, has such a brilliantly drawn range of emotions and you can feel the condescension dripping off her. Plus, the talent show means there’s space for some very fun outfits and settings.
I think the odd couple dynamic here is lovely – the relationship feels more solid than in the first book, but there is still some tension between Jasper and Scruff. It’s a great way to show kids that you don’t have to like all the same things to be friends with someone, but that you do have to take other people’s preferences into account and compromise sometimes. It never gets preachy about its moral (in fact, the mystery behind Lady Catterly’s success is far more of a focus), but it just quietly shows their friendship in a great light. It’s just very sweet!
Perfect for animal lovers and kids who enjoy stories of friendship and fun, this is a lovely instalment in a great series. Five out of five cats!