Born in a city park, Waverley has breakfast with a postman, lunch with Mrs McKinnon and her kittens, afternoon tea with the soldiers at The Castle, but spends every evening and night with his best friend, Donald. Until, one fateful day, Donald signs up to fight in a war-zone far away. Loyal and patient, the homeless little ginger cat waits for his friend at Edinburgh’s Waverley Station. He waits… and waits. Years go by but Waverley never gives up. He knows that home is where Donald is. Will Donald ever return and will he and Waverley find a home at last?
Debi Gliori, on her reasons for basing the story around a cat: “The addition of [Donald’s] fictional ginger cat, also homeless, added a poignant counterpoint to a story of war and the damage done. The cat’s story, of spending years being homeless in Edinburgh, also echoed that of his beloved human, serving in some far-off desert war, in ways which I hope will spark meaty subject matter for discussion in a classroom context.
The other reason I invented a cat? If we have to develop more kindness and empathy as a species, and all recent evidence points in this direction, then let it be a two-way process of development to be shared between adults and children. Children, on first exposure to the sight of homeless street people, are curious about why anyone would want to live their lives in such a precarious fashion, at the mercy of the elements, down in the dirt, begging for money. Adults, being more accustomed to witnessing such injustices, are made to feel deeply uncomfortable by having to explain why such inequalities exist. With the aid of stories like A Cat Called Waverley, children and adults can learn from each other, but only if we engage in honest and truthful discussions about the way our societies work ( or fail to work). This is challenging subject matter, but by using the cat’s story as a form of proxy, it enables us to enter into such discussions from a place of safety. Just as I used an animal’s story ( a fox, in ‘No Matter What’) to discuss the subject of death, I deliberately used the cat’s story to discuss homelessness.” from Just Imagine
For more background on the book’s genesis, see also this CILIP blog post by Debi Gliori.
Debi Gliori on Meet An Illustrator.
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