A Place to Read

To Be A Cat – Matt Haig, Book review

I wanted something to read along with my Little Man so I decided to introduce him to Matt Haig and we read together, To Be a Cat.

To Be a Cat, Matt Haig
Publisher: Penguin Random House Children’s UK 
ISBN: 9780552564342 
Number of pages: 320 
Weight: 224 g 
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 20 mm

To Be A Cat, the Blurb

Barney Willow’s life couldn’t get any worse. He’s weedy, with sticky-out ears. Horrible Gavin Needle loves tormenting him. And evil headteacher Miss Whipmire seems determined to make Barney’s existence a complete misery! Worst of all, Dad has been missing for almost a year – and there’s no sign of him ever coming home. Barney just wants to escape. To find another life. To be a cat, for example. A quiet, lazy cat.

Things would be so much easier – wouldn’t they?

Our Review

As a fan of Matt Haig I was eager to share his style with my son. After reading one of Matt’s books you get a sense of humanity, and they are often uplifting and assuring. You can read a couple of my reviews of Matt Haig’s other books here.

So, what did we think of To Be a Cat? Well, The Little Man was not over keen at first, he didn’t like how uncomfortable Barney Willow’s life was. My Little Man has experienced bullying himself and he prefers to lock it away rather than talk about it. But I thought it was good for him to see that other people felt the same too.

The book was kind of strange, I mean, humans really can’t turn into cats can they? Poor Barney had quite an awful life, his Mum was distracted, his father missing, he was being bullied and his head teacher seemed to have it in for him big time. Luckily he did have his best friend Rissa on his side.

Then looking at life from a cat’s point of view, well, do they really have it any different? There are still falling outs and bullying and at times, even more horror to endure.

As the book progressed you wondered if Barney would ever get his life in order and my Little Man was gripped, wanting to know what would happen next.

The book also had Matt’s wonderful way of lifting up your spirits and giving you more belief that life really is worth living. It’s good to start giving younger children this affirmation as we think they have it easy, but its not really.

As we read this book together, I loved the closeness of being with my boy. We had stopped bedtime stories long ago, but he was required to read as part of his homeschooling and I think we chose the right book. I also noticed that my 14 year old was listening along to the story too, even though she was pretending not to 😉


I bought this book after choosing it with my son and all thoughts and opinions are my own. I have included an affiliate link in my post. If you click through and purchase it will cost you no extra but may earn me a little money, so thank you x

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5 thoughts on “To Be A Cat – Matt Haig, Book review”

  1. I love Matt Haig’s Father Christmas stories and have read some of his adult books too but I haven’t heard of this one. I’ve read some of the classics aloud to my daughter during lockdown and it is lovely to have such a close experience :o)


  2. I really enjoyed Evie and the Animals by Matt Haig and Father Christmas as well as his grown up books but hadn’t heard of this one. Thanks for sharing and linking up with #KLTR

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