Parents' Guide to


By Matt Berman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 9+

Brilliant premise -- so-so execution.

Book Zizou Corder Fantasy 2005
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A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 2+

Based on 1 parent review

age 2+

The AudioCD Version: A fantastic way for the whole family to enjoy car rides

Our family just finished listening to the audio CD on car rides (to/from school, lessons, etc). Our 9 year old thoroughly enjoyed it, as have my husband and I. Our 7 year old fell asleep a couple of times - some of the descriptive paragraphs drag a bit. I was worried it would be too adult for the kids, but was mostly relieved. There were two references to drunkenness (once as a part of the circus act & once a police officer was drunk). The premise in general carries a lingering threat of violence (Charlie's parents are kidnapped and there is a bad man that is chasing Charlie...and, of course, lions are wild animals), but that threat never comes to anything that caused a problem or concern. Charlie and many of the people he interacts with are smart and clever. Fascinating & entertaining information about circus life and the futuristic state of the world, with most beings (cats & humans) that Charlie encounters being supportive and good. All in all, a great tale. We can't wait to listen to the sequel.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1):
Kids say (5):

It's a brilliant premise that should have worked. You have a boy who can talk to cats (and lions!), a floating circus and later the Orient Express for settings, a child out to rescue both lions and his parents, a touch of fantasy, and an adventure spanning the width of Europe. It does eventually start to work, but only about three-quarters of the way through.

The whole thing has the pacing of a fly in honey -- lots of buzzing, but not getting much of anywhere. It might have worked if Charlie had some personality or voice or humor, but he's pretty much a cipher -- Our Hero Who Speaks to Cats. Those children who make it to the end will be rewarded by a very exciting last section and a cliffhanger ending, and will want the sequel immediately. But many kids won't get that far.

Book Details

  • Author: Zizou Corder
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Dial Books
  • Publication date: February 6, 2005
  • Number of pages: 273
  • Last updated: June 30, 2015

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