Carbonel: The King of the Cats

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Carbonel: the King of the Cats
BarbaraSleigh CarbonelTheKingOfTheCats.jpg
First US edition
AuthorBarbara Sleigh
CountryUnited Kingdom
SeriesCarbonel series
GenreChildren's novel
PublisherMax Parrish (UK)
Bobbs-Merrill (US)
Publication date
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)
Followed byThe Kingdom of Carbonel 

Carbonel: the King of the Cats is a children's book by Barbara Sleigh, first published by Max Parrish in 1955, and in the US by Bobbs-Merrill, 1955. It is based on an old folk tale from the British Isles[1] "The King of the Cats" and has two sequels, The Kingdom of Carbonel (Puffin, 1961) and Carbonel and Calidor: Being the Further Adventures of a Royal Cat (Kestrel Books, 1978), making up the Carbonel series. The first edition of Carbonel was illustrated by V. H. Drummond, and of Kingdom by D. M. Leonard.

Plot summary[edit]

A girl named Rosemary buys a broom and a cat from Mrs Cantrip, an untidy woman in the market place. When the cat starts talking to Rosemary, she learns that the woman is a witch, selling her possessions to start a new career. Moreover, the cat, Carbonel, just happens to be King of the Cats, presumed missing by his subjects since the witch abducted him. Unfortunately, he cannot return to his throne until the enslavement spell Mrs Cantrip cast on him is undone. Rosemary, together with her new friend John, have to learn a little witchcraft themselves, and then track down Mrs Cantrip to obtain her, at best ambivalent, help.

Main characters[edit]

  • Rosemary Brown – who buys Carbonel
  • Carbonel – the cat protagonist
  • Rosemary's mother – a poor widow and seamstress
  • Mrs Cantrip – kidnapper of Carbonel and a (semi-retired) witch
  • John – Rosemary's friend, and the nephew of Mrs Brown's employer

Release details[edit]

  • 1955, UK, Max Parrish ISBN ?, publication date 1955, paperback (first edition)
  • 1957, UK, Atheneum ISBN 0-672-50241-0, publication date January 1957, hardback
  • 1970, UK, Puffin Books ISBN 0-14-030155-0, publication date 29 January 1970, paperback
  • 1975, UK, Viking Children's Books ISBN 0-7226-6475-3, publication date 31 December 1975, hardback
  • 2004, US, New York Review of Books ISBN 1-59017-126-8, publication date Nov 2004, hardback
  • 2005, UK, Puffin Books ISBN 0-14-131973-9, publication date 25 August 2005

Carbonel (the first book) is currently (as of 2005) in print in hardback in the US as part of the New York Review Children's Collection. The UK paperback was reprinted in August 2005 by Puffin.