Review: The Cat Who Came In Off The Roof by Annie M.G. Schmidt

In search of a cozy, quirky book to curl up with on a winter evening or to read out loud with a young child? The Cat Who Came in off the Roof, translated from the beloved Dutch children’s classic, Minoes, may be just the ticket.

Shy newspaper reporter Tibble is in trouble with his editor for only ever writing stories about cats. A fervent cat lover, Tibble is too timid to seek out real news stories from human sources. Fortunately for him, he shortly makes the acquaintance of a mysterious young woman named Minou, whom he rescues after she is chased up a tree by a dog. He offers Minou shelter in his home, where he observes her many “cattish” traits: she nuzzles up to people (she has a soft spot for the fishmonger), purrs, hisses, and prefers to sleep in a box. She can also communicate with all the neighborhood cats, because, she claims, she used to be a cat herself. Her friendship proves invaluable to Tibble, as she takes it upon herself to supply him with local news which she learns through the grapevine of neighborhood cats – an informal Cat Press Agency. Soon the cats – a motley crew imbued with quirky, distinct personalities – stumble upon a juicy story with a nasty villain, but must find a way to prove its credibility when no human witnesses come forward to corroborate the cats’ intelligence.

This fanciful and funny story invites readers to suspend their disbelief and be charmed by the adventures of Minou, Tibble, and the Cat Press Agency.

Minoes won the Dutch Silver Slate Pencil award in 1971, was widely translated into multiple languages, and was adapted into a film, Miss Minoes, in 2001.

The Cat Who Came in off the Roof
Annie M.G. Schmidt, David Colmer (Trans.)
Delacorte Press, 2016 (paperback edition forthcoming in January 2017)

Review by Jenny Zbrizher

 

About the Author

Annie M.G. Schmidt is considered the “Queen of Dutch Children’s Literature”. Her books have won awards, been adapted into films, and translated into many languages; they hold a special place in the canon of Dutch children’s literature. She was the recipient of the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 1988.

About the Translator

David Colmer is an Australian writer and translator who lives in Amsterdam and is specialized in Dutch-language literature—novels and children’s books as well as poetry. He has won many translation awards, including major Dutch and Australian prizes for his body of work, the IMPAC-Dublin Literary Award and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, both with novelist Gerbrand Bakker. In 2014, Even Now, his translation of a selection of the poetry of Hugo Claus, was shortlisted for the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation.

 

Reviews

BOOKLIST:

“Finely translated by Colmer, this Dutch import is considered something of a children’s classic in Holland, and it’s easy to see why.”

PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY:

“It’s a satisfying and triumphant fantasy—one that will have readers watching what they say in front of

their cats.”

KIRKUS (STARRED REVIEW):

 “A charming, refreshing, and funny treat.”

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