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The International Writers Magazine: Review

I am Spartapuss by Robin Price
Publisher: Mogzilla
ISBN-10: 0954657608
ISBN-13: 978-0954657604
Stephen Doyle

I am Spartapuss is quite squarely aimed at children, and is knowingly written.The language is straightforward and easy to read, and the structure of sentences is also quite simple. It is also entrancing and highly amusing.

It’s written from the point of view of ‘Spartapuss’ a slave for the Feline Empire in AD 36, working in a bathhouse. Through a series of comedic events, he ends up as a gladiator, which is where the story really starts to get interesting.

We experience the story through Spartapuss’ notes and letters, written in his first-person point of view, and as such with a tongue wedged firmly in cheek, and a somewhat naïve view of the world – which only makes Spartapuss himself more endearing as a character. His views on the people around him are also very amusing, and on occasion actually caused me to laugh out loud – which is a particular feat for a children’s book!

A sense of humour is one of the things that prevails throughout the book – whether it’s the simple puns on the names of people and places from history to include cats and feline references, or as mentioned, Spartapuss’ amusing view on the world.

At only 189 pages, the book is the ideal length for many children, and will keep their attention for long enough. It is educational enough about the Roman Empire without being boring or too serious, and will arouse curiosity and questions, which I for one, would encourage. Kids – and I would say boys, especially – would love the book for its humour and the overall setting. If it has any flaws, I would say that it could have been a little longer, but at it’s current length, loses nothing.

There are two other books following this one, Catligula and Die Clawdius, written by the same author that continues the story. A fourth is also in the works, named ‘Boudicat’. I would be interested to see how the story develops in those books as well.

 Stephen Doyle March 2008>

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