To Be a Cat

Illustrated by Stacy Curtis
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About The Book

When Barney’s feline fantasy comes true, the fur starts flying in this darkly hilarious and heartwarming tale.

Cats have it made. They laze in sun patches, are showered with affection by loving humans, can cough up hairballs wherever they want, and never have to wonder why their dad disappeared one day and never came back. It’s clearly much easier to be a cat than to be a middle school boy.

So when Barney Willow wishes he could be a cat, and gets his wish, he should be thrilled. Except he’s not. He discovers that not all cats are cute and cuddly, and some of them are downright evil. He discovers that his own mother can’t see past the whiskers to recognize her darling son. Worst of all, he discovers that his life is in grave danger…and he doesn’t have eight lives to spare.

About The Author

Clive Doyle

Matt Haig is the bestselling author of several children’s books and novels, including The Radleys, winner of the ALA Alex Award. An alumnus of Hull University and Leeds, his work has been translated into twenty-nine languages. He lives in York with his wife, UK novelist Andrea Semple, and their two children.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (June 2014)
  • Length: 304 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781442454064
  • Grades: 3 - 7
  • Ages: 8 - 12
  • Lexile ® 690L

Raves and Reviews

"Peppered with quirky illustrations, the story features extreme characters and circumstances in the tradition of Roald Dahl.... Haig's cautionary tale is a unique one, and Barney's struggles will be understood by readers who are uncomfortable in their own skin."

– School Library Journal, July 2013

"Barney wasn’t all that happy as a 12-year-old boy. First his dad moved out of the house, then disappeared altogether. His mum seems rushed and preoccupied. The school bully victimizes him mercilessly, and the principal regards him as her personal enemy. Still, after wishing to be a cat and magically becoming one, Barney desperately wants his old life back. Wishing got him into his predicament, but it’s just not enough to get him out of it. The plot takes some unexpected turns...the telling is engaging, and its generally light tone gives readers hope, even at the darkest moments. Barney makes a sympathetic protagonist, both as a boy and as a cat. Witty and sometimes exaggerated ink drawings with gray washes capture human expressions and feline body language with equal facility, and the jacket art is sure to attract readers."

– Booklist Online, July 2013

Awards and Honors

  • MSTA Reading Circle List

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images

More books from this author: Matt Haig