Owen Davey

Crazy About Cats


There are so many wonderful books around that sometimes we miss reviewing something that we really love or have enjoyed using with children. Meeting Owen Davey at Hay earlier this year reminded me just how much I love his books and his style of illustration. ‘Crazy About Cats’- could have been written to describe me- is my favourite of his books to date and is a wonderful text to use to support the Year 6 Science Curriculum ( living things, evolution etc)- or purely for pleasure!


Although I am a fan of photographs in non-fiction books, there is something very appealing about Owen’s stunning illustrations and their beauty which negates this concern completely. The book begins with exploring the genus of cats, number of species and general diet and habitat of these amazing creatures before considering their evolution and the domesticity of the house cat. This could form the perfect starting point for work on classification, using examples before working scientifically and classifying creatures they might find closer to home. (Bonkers About Beetles might come in handy here!)


The diversity of cats in this book is wonderful, making the perfect starting point for further investigation, allowing children to compare and contrast how different cats species have adapted to their environments. The marbled cat (Pardofelis marmorata) caught my imagination - I’m ashamed to say I had never heard of it; I now know where it comes from and that it is the only species classified as ‘pardofelis’, having previously been thought to belong to the panthera lineage. Another species which leapt off the page at me was the ‘margay’ which is a featured creature in the book. Sadly. both of these wonderful creatures are considered to be ‘near threatened’.


‘Crazy About Cats’ is packed full of fascinating, clear information, but I also love the fact that there is a section about cat mythology, touching on some of the stories told about cats through the ages. There are many writing opportunities which might come from this book as well- reports, persuasive, discussion as well as narrative.

The contents and index make it easy to navigate, but this is really one of those books that is best lingered over as something catches the eye. The book ends with information about the endangered status of many of our big cats and suggestions for how we can help.

Beautiful in content as well as quality, ‘Crazy About Cats’ is a fabulous book about felines which will captive and educate in equal measure.

Crazy About Cats Owen Davey

Flying Eye Books ISBN: 978-1911171164

Planning ideas for this book will be added to the Members’ Section of the website very soon.

JAB- favourite books of 2016!

A real challenge for us book-lovers to narrow it down to just one choice! Still, I decided it had to be done and asked members of JAB for their top picks of 2016!

Today, we hear from Emily and Tracy.


My favourite book of 2016…

Smart About Sharks by Owen Davey

Flying Eye      ISBN: 978-1909263918

Did you know that sharks can be found swimming in every ocean on the planet? Sharks are some of the most successful underwater hunters on Earth but there is so much more to learn about these amazing fish. Owen Davey’s latest book ‘Smart About Sharks’ explores so much about what makes a shark, a shark. Over the last 200 million years they have evolved to become the perfect predators adapting to their environments and passing these characteristics from generation to generation, making them the kings of the seas.

This incredible book has something for every shark/marine enthusiast to sink their teeth into. Whether it’s finding about the variety of sharks- the fastest, the highest jumper, the laziest; or simply learning about how social they are, this book is full of the most amazing fishy facts. Take a look at the average size of different species compared to each other and get to know both the smallest and the largest varieties of shark. With so many weird and wonderful shark families you will be amazed by the Goblin Shark, the Tropical Sawshark and even the Pyjama Shark!

Davey closes the book with a fascinating look at shark mythology. Many cultures around the world respect the shark, especially those that swim in surrounding waters, so it is natural that many legends and traditional tales feature these amazing creatures. Discover Mäna the Aboriginal shark that created the rivers of Australia, Ka-moho-ali’i the Hawaiian fish god and Dakuwaqa the Fijian half-man, half-shark god who is afraid of the giant octopus goddess.

Owen Davey’s unique style and restricted colour palette of pink, turquoise & lemon make this book a visual feast. The design is clean and uncluttered but full of artistic charm. Each page balances the authoritative feel of a 1950’s style text book with a colourful and engaging picture book simply begging to be enjoyed.

Recommended to fans of ‘Mad About Monkeys’ and the other recent publications from Flying Eye. This book is as much a work of art as it is a fact file of amazing information about the wonderful world of sharks.

I loved this book because during our holiday to Cornwall, Nathaniel and I were able to identify a shark’s egg after we had read the book together! Brilliant!


Eren by Simon P Clark

Atom    ISBN: 978-1472110985

My book of the year is Eren by Simon P Clark; it is the book that turned my son from a reader of obligation into a lover of books.

We shared Eren as a rather chilling bedtime story back in January and from the first few lines, the tense atmosphere of this page-turner had my boy gripped. Eren raised some huge questions in my young man and we had some very long, bookish conversations that I didn’t think you could have with a 10 year old!

Henry wrote to Simon P Clark telling him how much he had enjoyed Eren and sharing his theories on the story and he received a lovely handwritten reply in return that I know he will cherish forever.

It really is quite special to fall in love with reading but to be there when someone else does is a real honour and that is why Eren is my book of the year.