‘The Whisperer’ is a picture book which revolves around the story of two feuding gangs of cats. It is set in a scrap yard and the story is largely told by a the narrator (a rat) who keeps a close eye on the two gangs, eager to make sure they are not keeping an eye on him! The story takes a familiar turn when the son and daughter of the rival gang leaders strike up a relationship. When pulled up before the gang leaders the star crossed cats are faced with a decision of returning to their families or being banished together. They choose to leave together. The story is based on that of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, although the ending is adapted to more suitable for a younger audience and sees the two gangs brought together with a twist at the end.
The book itself is a very successful adaptation of a classic story which is an invaluable tool with which children can be introduced to the world of Shakespeare in an exciting and relevant way. The use of a narrator not only makes the book flow well but also adds a humorous edge to what otherwise could be a slightly dark story. The use of two gangs of cats (one gang of black cats and one gang of ginger cats) is very useful for representing differences in society and how differences can be overcome, a strong moral message. The language used in ‘The Whisperer’ is brilliant for descriptions without being overly complicated. There is colourful animation throughout.
As there are a small number of main characters in the book but large number required for the two gangs the book lends itself well to being the basis of a performance, with possible lessons in learning to move like a cat and to make cat masks so creating more interest and excitement around the book. ‘The Whisperer’ is suitable for a range of age groups from being read aloud to age 4+ to being used as an introduction to Shakespeare for older children.
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- Reading Age: 6+
- Reading Aloud Age: 4+
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