Normally, if I saw a children's book that was around 200 pages long and filled with illustrations, I would be skeptical about it being a good story. But I've read one like it before, by the same author so I was pretty hopeful about this one too. It really lived up to my expectations! If the name Michael rings a bell it should - he's written books such as War Horse, Kensuke's Kingdom and Private Peaceful.
The book is about Kaspar but told from the point of view of Johnny, a fourteen year old working at the Savoy Hotel in London, in the early 1900's. His dreams are far bigger than being a bell boy for the rest of his life and when a Countess walks through the doors of the Hotel one day, his entire life changes.
There's a lot of sad, and happily sad, events in this story. Pretty quickly into this book things take a turn for the worse and Johnny finds himself tasked with the job of keeping Kaspar a secret, as he's not allowed pets in the Hotel. Things get better when he meets Lizziebeth, a spirited girl from America, who discovers Kaspar and immediately falls in love with him.
Of course, the Titanic plays a big part in Johnny's life later in the story and despite it being such a tragic event, it could also have been one of the best things that happened to him, in an odd way. The ending was perfect (purrfect?), yet sad. Happily sad though! I did cry a little.
I loved this book most of all for it's ability to appeal to both children and adults. It's a very memorable story and the history is described perfectly, making everything easy to picture. I highly recommend this and another book of Michael's I have read, The Mozart Question, which I (almost) guarantee will make you cry a little.