‘They only want to cross the wall so they have a safe place to raise their kittens’

Joanne Cummins writing for the TES

15th July 2016 at 08:03

Teacher review

Malkin Moonlight is the debut book from teacher Emma Cox, winner of the National Literacy Trust’s new children’s author prize 2015.

As a kitten, Malkin escapes the clutches of death and is touched by the moonlight – he’s destined for something special.

Now on his third life, Malkin falls in love with Roux, a domestic pet. Together they explore the beaches, walls and secret places of the night. Roux teaches Malkin to read and Malkin teaches Roux to be brave. When Roux’s owners decide to sell up their business and move away, it seems as though their relationship will come to end, but Roux’s newfound bravery helps her run away and back to Malkin.

Guided by their seagull friend, the pair end up at the local recycling centre. They soon discover that the centre is home to two very separate tribes of warring cats. Can Malkin finally realise his destiny and bring peace, before it’s too late?

I loved this book. It felt as though you were being drawn into a secret world that had existed undetected for generations. The magical elements of being touched by moonlight, use of the sixth sense and the moving description of the passing of the cats’ lives added to the mystical atmosphere being woven around you.


Another interesting theme in this book is that of “us” and “them” – something which is evident in the ongoing rivalry and mistrust between Foss’s gang in the recycling yard and The Putrescibles (headed by the fearsome and bitter Toxic), who live the other side of the wall where the toxic and dangerous waste is dumped.

The Putrescibles claim they only want to cross the wall to the other gang’s side so they have somewhere safe to raise their kittens and a steady supply of food and clean water. But, because of a deep-seated distrust caused by a long-forgotten argument, the other cats won’t allow them to cross over and live with them – they are concerned there won’t be enough for everybody.

I feel that this theme cleverly mirrors the crisis our society is facing at the moment, with fear and distrust of immigrants seemingly being the overwhelming reason that people voted leave in the recent EU referendum. This part of the book would provide an excellent starting point for a discussion with children about the rights of others and the current immigration situation, and about how they think some of these issues could be resolved.

To me, this book also had echoes of the excellent Varjak Paw by SF Said, with a young cat going on a journey of self-discovery, facing adventures and difficulties along the way. Interestingly, this is something which was also picked up by our pupil-reviewers, who had studied Varjak in class.

Joanne Cummins is literacy manager at Chalk Ridge Primary School in Hampshire. She tweets as@BookSuperhero2

Pupil reviews

I found it so interesting, I couldn’t put it down! I loved how Emma Cox added in the nine-lives feature. OF COURSE I would recommend this to a friend!
Orla, 9

I liked that Malkin was named by the moon, after being thrown in the river with his siblings. Malkin and Roux were my favourite characters because I liked that they got married. It reminded me ofVarjak Paw and I would recommend it to young readers.
Frances, 9

I really enjoyed this book and it was very “popping”. My favourite part was when Malkin and Roux travelled to the recycling centre. I would recommend this to a confident reader.
Shreyas, 9

The book is very well-written and good, but the beginning is a bit depressing (it gets a lot better though!). I would recommend this for all ages.
Jamie, 9

If you or your class would like to write a review for TES, please contact Adi Bloom at adi.bloom@tesglobal.com

Click here to read Emma Cox’s blog explaining how writing has made her a better teacher

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