Carbonel series

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Carbonel is a children's book series by Barbara Sleigh, first published by Puffin Books from 1955 to 1978. Also published in the US by Bobbs-Merrill from 1955. It has three novels, first Carbonel: the King of the Cats and two sequels, The Kingdom of Carbonel (Puffin, 1961) and Carbonel and Calidor: Being the Further Adventures of a Royal Cat (Kestrel Books, 1978), and was based on the old British folk tale "The King of the Cats". The first edition of Carbonel was illustrated by V. H. Drummond, that of Kingdom by D. M. Leonard, and that of Carbonel and Calidor by Charles Front. Carbonel was named a Book of the Month by Young Elizabethan magazine, as a "most sensible, it-could-easily-have-happened fairy story".[1]


The plot concerns a girl named Rosemary who buys a broom and a cat from an untidy woman in the marketplace. When the cat starts talking to her she learns that she has encountered a witch, selling up to start a new career. Moreover, the cat, Carbonel, just happens to be King of the Cats, presumed missing by his subjects ever since the witch Mrs. Cantrip abducted him. Unfortunately he can't return to his throne until the enslavement spell Mrs. Cantrip cast on him is undone, so Rosemary, together with her friend John, have to learn a little witchcraft and to track down Mrs. Cantrip for her at best ambivalent help.

The first two books are more closely associated than the third. It has been noted that Carbonel has few real cat characteristics. He is more like Edith Nesbit's Psammead in Five Children and It, speaking "with the voice of tart and faintly impatient adulthood".[2]

Cats (albeit non-speaking ones) are also central to Sleigh's stand-alone novel No One Must Know (1962), about children hiding a cat and her kittens from the landlord, who has banned pets.[3]



  1. ^ "Barbara Sleigh" Archived October 25, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.. Alienor's Words Page; Deep Purple Cat ( Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  2. ^ Susan Ang, "Carbonel Series", The Cambridge Guide to Children's Books in English (Cambridge: CUP, 2001). Online copy. Retrieved 23 June 2011.
  3. ^ "Other books by Barbara Sleigh". Alienor's Words Page; Deep Purple Cat ( Retrieved 22 October 2015.

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