Hilda Offen on a funny story, told with enormous energy…
I wish I’d written Jeffy, the Burglar’s Cat by Ursula Moray Williams. I came across this book years ago in a second hand shop and knew at once that I’d found something special.
It’s the story of the staid and law-abiding Jeffy who lives happily with the Old Lady until the introduction of a newcomer into the household. Despite appearances to the contrary, Little Lou, the kitten, is a young delinquent; soon he and the Old Lady are embarking on a life of crime. It’s a very funny story, told seriously and with enormous energy.
There is something very endearing about Jeffy’s earnestness, as he attempts to mentor Little Lou and steer him and the Old Lady away from their chosen path; but one can’t help feeling a sneaky admiration for the sheer enthusiasm of the criminal duo as they persist in their illegal activities.
Ursula Moray Williams wrote this book towards the end of her long and prolific writing life. She claimed that she never deliberately wrote for children, ‘they just happened to like what I wrote’ – surely the best recommendation for any children’s book. I’ve read Jeffy, the Burglar’s Cat to countless children over the years and they’ve always loved it. I love it too. It’s a little gem.
Jeffy, the Burglar’s Cat by Ursula Moray Williams, with illustrations by David McKee, was first published by Andersen Press in 1981 and is available via Amazon. Hilda Offen’s latest book is Knee-High to a Knight (Catnip, 978 1 846470 85 1, £4.99). Her book The Galloping Ghost (Catnip, 978 1 905117 66 6, £4.99) was short-listed for the 2009 Roald Dahl Funny Prize.