This wonderful story of an orphaned seagull and the cat who promised its dying mother he would teach her chick to fly has all the qualities of the very best fables. An act of bravery and generosity enabled Zorba the fat black cat to enjoy a happy life in the port of Hamburg: a young boy saved him as a kitten from the beak of a pelican and the two have been friends and companions ever since. When a seagull caked in oil crashes onto Zorba’s balcony he is generous too, promising to look after the egg she is about to lay and the chick. And he does, with the help of some of the other port cats, surely some of the noblest on the planet. They keep the egg safe but problems start when the chick hatches. Even though the cats have access to a complete set of encyclopaedias, owned by the cat Einstein, they just can’t teach Lucky the little gull to fly. But a cat of the port always lives up to his word. The animals decide they’ll have to look for help beyond the animal world, and approach a human, the author of the book in fact. With the help of a beautiful poem by Bernado Atxaga the fledgling finally and gloriously takes to the skies.
Messages about love, kindness, and the rewards of treating all living things as equals are all contained in this charming story, as well as warnings about the damage humans are doing to the world. The cats themselves are as appealing and intriguing set of characters as you could hope to meet, and their homes and way of life will fascinate young readers. It’s beautifully written, expertly translated and Satoshi Kitamura’s illustrations perfectly catch the comedy, melancholy and the joy.
Visit the Alma Books website for an interview with Luis Sepulveda.