Join young pilot Claude D'Bonair and the crazy crew at Cats HQ on their hair-raising adventures. Take off to a furtastic world, jam-packed with hilarious action, full-colour comics, detailed diagrams, and purrfect puns that will have readers meowing for more.
Inspired by the adventure annuals of the 50s and 60s, Flying Furballs Take-Off! is a large format full-colour collection of stories and fun facts. This book is a wonderful introduction to the world of Flying Furballs for readers new to the series of nine chapter books, and a great continuation of the series for existing fans.
This book is recommended for children aged 10 and over, but as an adult reader I think I got even more out of it than the kids did. Apart from the retro format, which echoes that of the comic annuals I grew up with and looked forward to finding in my Xmas stocking, there is enough factual content about World War 1 to satisfy anyone who might criticise a child for not reading "proper books". Flying Furballs Take-Off! is as proper as it gets, but the facts are presented in the context of a colourful and very entertaining whole. Surely the best way of learning!
The copyright page gives a hint as to the rest of the book's content. Instead of a plain white page with the book information in a small black font, a cream memo sheet displays the essential details. It is stamped TOP SECRET and is attached to several other documents with a paperclip. Under these documents are news clippings, secured with a second paperclip. At the top of the page is a collection of items relating to wartime aviation. Finally, at the bottom right, there is a glossary of terms used in the book. We were surprised to learn that "furball" really is the word for a full-on air battle and not just a cat-related term for unmentionable items deposited on the carpet! This is probably the first time I have ever spent more than ten minutes poring over a copyright page.
Two adults and two children in our family have read the book so far. Miss 10 did not get all the nuances, but still enjoyed the story for itself. She loved the Scratching Post comic strips and managed to work out the coded message on the Barkly Park Code Crackers page. Mr 12 was fascinated by the diagrams of the various planes. His cousin is a grease monkey; she works with cars rather than planes, but he has told her about the book and she is looking forward to reading it too when she next visits. My partner had fun looking for the lost marbles and took great pride in finding them in under five seconds. As for the variation in the three artists' names in the How To Draw section, that prompted a name search through the rest of the book to find more examples of creative renaming.
My own reaction to the book was just as positive as that of the other three. I was impressed by the amount of research that had been done. Donovan Bixley knows his history; not only is the information accurate, but the artwork supports the fashion design and colour schemes of the period. Using the Flying Furballs to present a narrative of what was in the skies at the time is a less threatening way of showing the realities of war to a young audience. Death constantly hangs over the aviators, but somehow cats always land on their feet. This is an attribute of cartoon characters, of course; where in real life a human would be killed, the magic of the pencil restores life so that the story can proceed to the next frame.
We are looking forward to reading the series of nine chapter books in due course now that we have been introduced to the Furballs. This book was definitely a great way to meet them!
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