Hotel for Cats by Marie Pavlenko, illustrated by Marie Voyelle

Hotel for Cats – at a glance

The School Reading Lists’ five word review: Friendship, Loyalty, Frightened, Cats, Adventure.
Children’s book title: Hotel for Cats.
Children’s author: Marie Pavlenko.
Children’s illustrator: Marie Voyelle.
Genre: Children’s fiction.
Published by: Chicken House.
ISBN: 9781915947000.
Recommended for children aged: 7-9 year-olds.
First published: Paperback February 2024.
This children’s book is ideal for: Reading aloud, especially with all the cat puns contained here!

Hotel for Cats by Marie Pavlenko

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Our review:

There is a totally unique hotel in Paris, the Hotel Charama, which is run by Magda, or so she thinks! Actually, it’s Bobine and her three friends who are in charge and they are all cats, which is fine, and so are the guests! On a busy day of new arrivals, one stands out, Wolfgang, a beautiful black cat who is a little nervous about his holiday.

Hotel for Cats by Marie Pavlenko spread 1

Bobine, who is really the boss, and her friends, Couscousse, Carpette, and Mulot, make it their job to ensure everyone is happy and having a great time. Wolfgang however, refuses to leave his room or explain why, and so he becomes Bobine’s special project. After all no one should be unhappy in her hotel, it’s bad for business and without Magda what would happen to the four permanent residents?

After an emergency meeting, Bobine begins to plan how to make the holiday a great one, but things don’t go as well as they’d hoped! Wolfgang won’t tell anyone what’s wrong and so his problems get worse and worse until he hides away where, hopefully, no one can find him. Unfortunately, all the four friends know is that Wolfgang has disappeared!

Hotel for Cats by Marie Pavlenko spread 2

Our verdict:

This is a fun read, with humour aimed directly at younger readers with pawful puns aplenty but the simple storyline also contains a serious message. Wolfgang’s problem, it turns out, started as soon as he arrived when three other new feline guests began bullying him because of his colour. The subject of racism, however, isn’t specifically mentioned anywhere. Instead, the author uses the reputation of black cats as the basis of the bullying because, for some, black cats are considered lucky but equally are deemed by others to be unlucky.

As Wolfgang doesn’t tell anyone what’s wrong Bobine and her friends, although determined to help him, have to spend time trying to find out what’s wrong rather than solving the problem quickly. This could be used as a relatable example of why it’s best to share your worries with those you trust instead of staying silent. That way things can be sorted sooner rather than later.

One other little thing, the cat’s names are wonderful but my favourite is poor old Mulot who has to go through life being called Fieldmouse!

Hotel for Cats by Marie Pavlenko spread 3

Teaching points and book club discussion ideas:

  • It could be used in PHSE to broach the subject of bullying or being judged solely on your appearance and how, by telling someone what the problem is, you can get help finding a solution rather than suffering in silence.
  • Read a free extract.

Many thanks to Chicken House for the review copy.

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If you like Hotel for Cats by Marie Pavlenko you might also like: our reviews of The Taming of the Cat by Helen Cooper, A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond, illustrated by Peggy Fortnum, An Anthology of Aesop’s Animal Fables by Helen Ward, The Way of Dog by Zana Fraillon, illustrated by Sean Buckingham and Big Sky Mountain by Alex Milway.

Browse our list of animal stories for children

About Tracy Wood

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I am a voracious reader and used to be a learning support assistant in a senior school for eight years before leaving to home school my now adult daughter. I have ten grandchildren who I love reading to and spending time with. Reviews by Tracy Wood