Da Vinci’s Cat

HarperCollins/Greenwillow. May 2021. 288p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780063015258.
Gr 5-8–Newbery Honor winner Murdoch’s middle grade novel is an engaging adventure story with a lot of time traveling. Bee and Frederico are two children from different time periods—Frederico is from 16th-century Rome, while Bee lives in current-day New Jersey. They are brought together through a mysterious magical wardrobe and an adventurous time-traveling cat. Their quest is to rewrite the past to save the future, and the cat shows them the way, revealing how to use a time machine. Murdoch will captivate readers with her knowledge of medieval Europe and the city of Rome, and her vivid depictions of each character’s distinct lifestyles. Readers may be surprised by the contrasts between Bee’s and Frederico’s perceptions of gender roles and certain cultural expectations. As a modern-day girl, Bee’s appearance and behaviors intitially strike Frederico as foreign—but Frederico soon learns that girls can be just as empowered and outspoken as boys, and that it is a good thing. Character’s skin tones are not described.
VERDICT This time-travelling friendship book will be a hit for fans of C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Lloyd Alexander’s Time Cat.

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