When Marco discovered he could read, his troubles began. Before his discovery, he was a happy cat who curled beside his friend Lucy in the library and enjoyed hearing her read to him. Her voice delighted him and caused him to love her stories.
In Guardian Cats & the Lost Books of Alexandria, Rahma Krambo introduces her readers to a cast of cats that drags them into an amazing story that is part fable, part magic, part history, and all-absorbing.
As Marco becomes entranced by the stories he read and the worlds he enters with each tale, he’s hooked. He’s a cat who can read, and he realizes that “book were no longer the unique property of humans.”
One night, Lucy and her grandmother’s house catches fire, and they flee as firemen extinguish the blaze. Marco is suddenly alone in the great house and the library!
In the meantime, Professor Leo Chin enters the story. He is a seeker of rare books, and he will eventually become Marco’s nemesis. Marco, now homeless and wondering, and after a nasty encounter with some feral cats, he finds himself in a musty old library where the books talk! Fond of The Three Musketeers, he takes down a copy from a shelf and begins to read, losing himself to the point of forgetting he is a cat. D’Artagnan is his favorite musketeer, and he delights in following his hero as he saves maidens and rights wrongs.
Disturbed by a tinkling sound, Marco explores the library, coming suddenly upon an old cat hunched over tome that he is reading intently and surrounded by other volumes that seem scientific . Not wanting to disturb the old cat, Marco turns to leave when the elder feline asks him what he wants. It is Cicero, and without knowing, Marco begins his destiny.
Cicero is a Guardian cat, and as the story continues, we find that Cicero is guarding a book, entitled The Book of Motion, that is a rescue from the great fire that destroyed the Library of Alexandria.
It isn’t long until Marco makes friends with a ferret named Polo and follows Cicero and a light-being named Alaniah to a cave under the library, on through a mirror, and into the past. He watches in horror as people who believe books are dangerous burn the Library. Some of the shocked observers save a few volumes of which them is the Book of Motion, a manual of magic. Years later when the human guardians die, guardianship is given to cats.
Marco finds that Professor Chin covets the Book and will do anything to get it.
Krambo skillfully weave he story with magic, shape-shifting, time travel, and heroics of the cats who are all sentinels looking after books in the musty library that is Cicero’s home. Cicero, however, Guardian of the Book, realizes he is old and needs a successor. Marco seems to fit the bill, but Cicero tests him to make sure.
I love stories in which animals represent human archetypes. In Marco we have the warrior reluctantly going into battle to save the Book, with Cicero his mentor. Professor Chin is his adversary and Polo joins the ranks of warriors’ sidekicks such a Sancho Panza or Robin Hood’s Merry Men. In truth, it is a tale of human beings dressed in animal suits doing what humans might not want others humans to see.
The plot includes a gang of raccoons that threaten Marco and his friends. The armies draw battle lines and engage.
This novel is completely engaging and well written. It had me from the opening paragraph and held me to the last.
I hope this is a first in a series about Marco, the Guardian cat, because it’s hard for me to believe Professor Chin was the only one who wanted the Book; indeed, lurking in the shadows of that wonderful old library are surely others obsessed with stealing the Book.
My cat Casper reading a dictionary with my aunts reading glasses. Casper says: When reading a dictionary is fun!