3 out of 4 stars
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Jeff's Adventures by Kate Lovering is a children's book about a cat named Jeff, who was accidentally left behind when his owners moved. Determined to find his family — as well as a comfy place to sleep and food he doesn't have to hunt for — he goes off into the wild unknown. He meets two stray cats, Henry and his sister Stevie, and the three set off on an adventure that reminded me of the movie Homeward Bound (except it doesn't take place in the wilderness).
The three cats form a strong bond with one another, as people (or cats) do when they face life-threatening situations together. The dynamic between Stevie and Henry was humorous and genuine. I thought the author did a great job of portraying a realistic sibling relationship, one full of jibes and love. Jeff fit in well with the two of them, and I think the group had good chemistry. Lovering also explored the backstories of each cat, which gave the characters more dimension. The omniscient third-person point of view also allowed me to really get to know the characters.
The mishaps and shenanigans the cats get into on their adventure are typical of the genre. I particularly enjoyed the banter between the cats when they were in tense situations. Henry, the most logical and street-smart of the three, is constantly exasperated by the other two. He was the most interesting character, and I really enjoyed his sass.
This 88-page book is probably best suited for readers between 7-12 years old. There are some scenes with violence; a man is tied up after being beaten (off-scene), and one man shoots a gun. However, the violence isn't graphic, and there's no vulgar language of any kind.
There were some things that, as an adult reader, gave me pause. For example, Jeff observes that a human is sitting in front of their computer, but a few pages later, he has no idea what a computer is — or trying to picture two cats running while holding paws. Since this is written for children, though, I don't really feel like I can hold these types of things against it. I don't think most children would be bothered by them (if they even noticed them in the first place).
My biggest issue with the book is the number of grammatical errors. I found over 25 errors before I stopped counting. These errors included missing quotation marks, improper/inconsistent capitalization, and minor typos, like "if" instead of "it." The second issue I had with it is the ending, which didn't tie things up neatly. It leaves room for a sequel, but as the author never mentions that this book is supposed to be part of a series, it left me feeling a little unsatisfied.
Due to the high number of errors, I have to give Jeff's Adventures 3 out of 4 stars. After a round of professional editing, this book would be worthy of four stars. I would recommend this to children who like cats and adventure stories with a strong emphasis on friendship. I would, however, recommend parents read it first if they have any issues with the violence I mentioned earlier.
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