Review

Kaspar the Titanic Cat

written by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Michael Foreman

Kaspar, a beautiful black cat originally owned by opera singer Countess Kandinsky, comes to stay at the Savoy in London while his owner is rehearsing and performing at Convent Garden. During her stay, the Countess befriends a bellboy, Johnny Trott, and employs him to care for her cat while she is working. A bond soon develops between Johnny and Kaspar.

"Despite being a work of fiction, parts of KASPAR THE TITANIC seem quite real, especially when Morpurgo starts describing what it was like to actually be on the Titanic as it was going down."

When the Countess is struck by a bus and dies, Johnny is left to care for Kaspar. Although he is glad to have the cat for his own, ownership is not without its difficulties. For one, Kaspar is so saddened by the death of his beloved Countess that he refuses to eat for several weeks. He only shows an interest in living after he meets Elizabeth Stanton, a rich American girl whose parents are staying at the Savoy. Lizziebeth (as she likes to be called) strikes up a friendship with Johnny, and the two become close.

When Lizziebeth and her family buy tickets to sail to America on the new Titanic, Johnny is saddened but resigned. He helps them take their luggage to the great ship. He is so awed by its majestic appearance and the thought of sailing on the great vessel that he decides at the last moment to take the voyage as a stowaway. He is caught and sent to the boiler room to help stoke the fires that fuel the great ship. A few days after leaving Southampton, the Titanic hits an iceberg and sinks. Miraculously Lizziebeth, her parents, Johnny and Kaspar all survive the sinking of the Titanic.

Although Kaspar is fictious, there is a sculpture of a black cat named Kaspar at the Savoy Hotel. As author Michael Morpurgo explains, a group of 13 men had dinner at the Savoy nearly 100 years ago. It was brought to everyone’s attention that 13 might be an unlucky number. One member of the group thought that was a silly superstition, but a few weeks later, that same man was dead. The management of the Savoy decided that 13 chairs would never again be put around the dinner table. If 13 people came in to eat together, a 14th chair would be added and a sculpture of a black cat, named Kaspar, would sit in the 14th chair.

Despite being a work of fiction, parts of KASPAR THE TITANIC seem quite real, especially when Morpurgo starts describing what it was like to actually be on the Titanic as it was going down.

Reviewed by Christine M. Irvin on March 30, 2012

Kaspar the Titanic Cat
written by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Michael Foreman