I’m not sure why, but there’s something special about stories featuring animals at Christmas time. Is it because they remind us of our own childhoods? Of solemnly arranging wooden sheep and cows around the Nativity crib? Or of the carols we looked forward to for much of the year? I always loved the reference to lowing cattle in Away in a Manger.
Whatever the reason, A Kitten Called Holly is a delightful addition to the genre. The story is simple – friends, Jasmine and Tom find a nest of feral kittens. They watch the mother come and go and, when she moves her little family, Jasmine and Tom realise that she has left one black furred, blue eyed scrap behind.
They set out to rescue it, but there are problems. Jasmine already has quite a menagerie and her mum, a vet, is against her adding to it. Tom’s mum isn’t precisely an animal lover. What will happen to the enchanting little kitten, whom they name Holly? Will Jasmine persuade her mum to accept another pet? Will poor Holly be sent to live with Jasmine’s arch enemy, Bella Bradley, who is guaranteed to lose interest in her as soon as a newer distraction comes along? Or will a different solution present itself?
Helen Peters incorporates the festive season into her story very effectively, and there’s a lovely scene where Holly (and some confederates) create the kind of chaos that could only happen at Christmas.