It is Splat’s first day at cat school, and he is not feeling particularly happy about it. Despite his excuses his Mum helps him onto his bike and off he goes. At school he meets his teacher, Mrs Wimpydimple, and all the other cats, and begins his lessons. One of the things he learns is that cats chase mice. Which would be fine, were it not for the fact that, in need of a friend, Splat popped his rodent friend Seymour into his lunchbox before he went to school. However, once Mrs Wimpydimple has calmed everything down again it is Splat and Seymour who are able to save the day when the door to the milk cupboard is stuck, and Splat goes home a much happier cat than he arrived.
This book is obviously aimed at children starting school who may be apprehensive. In the sense that Splat goes to school unhappy and returns full of excitement about his day, the message is a positive one. However, the difficulties that Splat encounters are too far removed from reality to be of any real use to nervous children. It is inspiring that Mrs Wimpydimple changes her blackboard notes in the light of what Splat and Seymour demonstate but if intended as a support book for young children there is too little of the actual problems they face on their first day, like talking to people, or finding where to eat lunch.
Rob Scotton’s illustrations are distinctive and really appeal to children; they look like they were painted with a spraycan and have a modern, edgy feel. There are some lovely details, like the window of the fish shop as they go by, and Splat’s body language expresses his mood really well. His nervousness is conveyed by the constant problems he creates and excuses he gives as he gets ready for school and the opening of the book works extremely well in that respect. In general however the book reads in a stilted, awkward fashion. The text does not flow adequately well and it is hard to read it aloud, as the pace and mood of the story are not always reflected in the language. At some points it skips too quickly through the narrative, and reading it you do feel that this is a book penned by an artist, rather than a writer.
Children will enjoy this for the pictures and for the absurdity of a cat taking his pet mouse to school, but it is a strange book with a slightly muddled story arc and disappointingly awkward writing.