Topher (Christopher, to give him his full name) Hope’s cat, Ka, can travel through time. Nobody else—Topher’s family or friends—knows this, though Topher accompanies the computer-semi-literate Ka on some of her travels.
This adventure starts when Ka’s interest in the Aztecs is kindled while they’re both watching a programme on the inhabitants of what is now Central Mexico. Forced to live in the garden shed because Topher’s little sister is allergic to cat hair, Ka disappears one evening. She comes back and upon being questioned by Topher, types the word Tenochtitlan on the computer screen and disappears again.
Topher follows on bird-back and lands in 16th century (1519 to be exact) Mexico. What follows is an absorbing adventure as Topher meets up with the legendary Spanish conquistador, Hernan Cortes, who is all set to invade the Aztecs and establish Spain’s supremacy. Cortes is not all bad, though. He wants to put an end to the Aztec practice of human sacrifice. Topher also meets Montezuma, the last great Aztec warrior king.
Julia Jarman takes the reader on a roller-coaster ride through Spanish-Aztec history (yes, even you can learn a bit) in this taut adventure. There is also a touch of the anthropologic to the book. A glossary explains the difficult names and meanings.
Coming back to the story, Topher and Ka make an enemy—El Sol, Cortes’ wicked lieutenant—and a friend—the young Aztec-Mexican girl, Patti. As Cortes’ army advances into Montezuma’s territory, El Sol tricks Cortes into going back to Cuba. As the battle intensifies, Topher, Ka and Patti find themselves trapped in the crossfire. Can Topher, Ka and Patti escape and get back to the present?
If your child finds this book interesting, there are other time-travelling Cat titles—Egyptian Goddess, Tudor Treasure and Roman Eagle—that offer a history-cum-adventure setting. Jarman has also written books like The Crow Haunting, Ghost of Tantony Pig and Poppy and the Vicarage Ghost.
Jarman’s storytelling career began after a conversation with her daughter. While narrating a naughty incident from her childhood, her daughter asked her, “Why don’t you write that down? You’ve always said you wanted to be an author?” Poppy Ran Away, her first book, was the result of that chat. Jarman has written books like Rabbit’s Surprise Party and Terrible Tiger for children as young as six.
The writer co-ownsEureka!a bookstore for children in Delhi. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org