Read The Sign of the Cat by Lynne Jonell Online


Talking cats, a missing princess, swordfights with villains, and secret identities combine in this epic tale of bravery and self-discovery on the high seas. Duncan is very smart. He also has a most unusual gift. So why does his mother encourage him to be perfectly average and insist he only get mediocre grades ? His special talent is the ability to talk to cats--but DuncanTalking cats, a missing princess, swordfights with villains, and secret identities combine in this epic tale of bravery and self-discovery on the high seas. Duncan is very smart. He also has a most unusual gift. So why does his mother encourage him to be perfectly average and insist he only get mediocre grades ? His special talent is the ability to talk to cats--but Duncan longs more than anything for academic success. When Duncan rebels and gets a perfect test score, people start taking notice of him. And it turns out that some of those people may not have the best intentions . . . not by a long shot....

Title : The Sign of the Cat
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 25737020
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 368 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Sign of the Cat Reviews

  • Jen
    2018-08-03 14:02

    My thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan Children's Publishing Group/Henry Holt and Co. for an eARC copy of this book to read and review.This book was a DNF for me. It was a tad to juvenile, BUT I can see where the appeal would be for younger readers who like cats, action, adventure and sailing/pirates. Definitely one I would recommend for sure, just not one I personally enjoyed. It did have one of my pet peeves, the Harry Potter syndrome of "the adults know best, but they won't tell the children WHY and WHAT is going on, because just kids, causing the youth to make poor decisions based off of lack of information". I HATE that trope.Three stars because I can see the potential, it just wasn't for me and the above pet peeve.

  • Sam
    2018-07-28 15:56

    Huge thank you to Raincoast Books for this ARC!What an imaginative book! I'll admit, this is the first Lynne Jonell book I've read, though her name was not unfamiliar to me since she's a household name in middle grade. The Sign of the Cat has the eader following a young boy named Duncan, who just happens to be able to communicate with cats.I loved Duncan as a protagonist. He's someone who has a lot of personal struggles, he's not the most liked kid, isn't the best at making friends, and his family tends to put him down because of how smart he is. To the point where they want him to get low grades so he won't "cause a scene" (seriously, who says that to their kid?). A lot of the book is focused on both the grand journey that Duncan takes, but it's also about his personal progress in becoming a person he can be satisfied with. He has a lot of personal growth, and becomes such a strong character by the end of the story, both in body and mind.My actual favourite character was Fia. She was just so sassy and fun, and her stubbornness was somewhat entertaining as well. A lot of the characters in this story are highly entertaining and a lot of fun. They keep the story moving, and it's fun to be whisked away into a world with talking cats. Seriously, TALKING CATS. How awesome is that? Let's be honest, most of think our pets are talking to us as is. The Sign of the Cat is such an engrossing adventure story, offering readers a little of romance, mystery, and thrills from start to finish. I can easily see this book being a hit with younger readers, especially those who dig a fun, epic journey, or to those who love the idea of talking kitty cats. I definitely can see this book being quite the hit with middle graders who want to read a grand adventure.

  • Joan
    2018-07-27 17:52

    I found this really very good! I thought I could see what was going to happen most of the time and often I was completely wrong. I liked the respect that both people and felines got in this book. I was rather shocked by what the villain was engaging in but it also occurred to me that it might make kids think about what makes this horrid behavior ok for other species of animals. I can't say more without giving away some parts of the plot. I was delighted to have a hero who liked school and wanted to do well. I'm hoping there might be a sequel to this since I just plain liked a number of the characters, including Duncan, the hero. Highly recommended to lovers of fantasy who want something original in fantasy!

  • Marathon County Public Library MCPL
    2018-07-19 20:05

    Duncan McKay lives with his mother on the island of Arvidia and knows how to speak and understand the language of cats. His fearful mother is full of secrets, including information about his deceased father and mysteriously does not want him to excel at anything. In addition to Duncan’s questions about his identity, kittens on the island are disappearing, the king is seriously ill, and the successor to the throne, princess Lydia, is missing which means the evil earl could become king. Drugged and tricked, Duncan finds himself on a dangerous sea voyage uncovering facts about himself, his father, the missing kittens, and the plight of his island home. This rousing, thoroughly enjoyable, adventurous romp, told in wonderful prose, will have older tweens, cat lovers, and others wishing this book had many more chapters. Sharyn H. / Marathon County Public LibraryFind this book in our library catalog.

  • Mary Moreno
    2018-08-06 19:49

    This was such a fantastic book! I read it out loud to my girls, and we were all really entertained. A boy, Duncan, who can speak Cat, tricky nobles, kidnapping (and kitten-napping) and adventure on the high seas, a lost princess, hidden identities, a military tiger ... fun and excitement on every page! My only issue was the weakness of Duncan's mother's character, but I guess his mom's bad decisions played into his adventure. Also, there was some uneven pacing, but none of us minded. The conversations with the cats - who have excellent advice and observations as well as very funny tricks - more than made up for that. A satisfying ending, and "cat justice" for the very bad, bad guys.

  • LeonaCarstairs
    2018-07-16 17:06

    I read this book twice, it was very good. The Sign of the Cat is a novel that I would recommend for ages 8-12. But even if you are older or younger you might like it too! The Sign of the Cat is about a boy who can talk to cats. He lives on an island with his overprotective mother, who never wants him to be noticed. Finally he does get noticed but it leads to his kidnapping and adventure. I think this book is great and imaginative. A good adventure story. It has a good plot and was very fun to read!

  • Gretchen
    2018-08-12 15:41

    Pure fun; great read-aloud. My eleven year old son LOVED it, reading it on his own after hearing it at school, and recommending it to our family. My eight and five year old daughters also enjoyed it; wide appeal.The story keeps a steady pace, though it is predictable at times for an adult audience. This made the journey no less enjoyable, though. The character of the felines was hilarious and true to kitty nature. Recommended for any chapter book reader and animal lover.

  • Shauna
    2018-08-09 16:41

    Duncan is an above-average boy (he actually knows the secret language of cats!) who must live a below-average life. But all that gets turned upside-down when he is kidnapped. Luckily he can rely on the help of cats, both small and large, to not only free himself, but solve some long-standing mysteries of his country. A very fun read! A great addition to my talking cats bookshelf!

  • Cecilia Rodriguez
    2018-08-05 14:46

    Duncan McKay is restless, when a mysterious stranger arrivesat his home.Jonell's plot reminded me of two classics: Kidnapped and Treasure Island.It also made me think of the more recent: Life of PI.A fun maritime adventure.

  • Jill Cd
    2018-07-25 17:06

    Although the storyline had promise, it was far too predictable and long for me. Others may like it.

  • EllaB Red
    2018-08-10 20:47

    4.5 stars

  • J.C.
    2018-07-27 15:58

    Lynne Jonell has done it again! I’ve waited nearly a year to read her newest novel, and it was completely worth the wait. Duncan’s story is not only fascinating, but it’ll well plotted and well written, with all loose ends tied up in a satisfying ending.There were so many things I loved about this book. It was fantasy without magic, a story that takes place in a whole another world, a whole another kingdom…The cats, which were a HUGE part of the story, were awesome. My favorite character was definitely Fia, a little kitten Duncan befriends. I really liked the way the cats played into the story without swerving the focus away from our hero (Duncan). His ability to speak Cat—well that was just plain out fascinating, and that alone kept me reading. How did he learn? Why does he have this ability? Why nobody else?The other mysteries—his mother’s overprotectiveness, the earl, the missing princess, it all—were so intriguing that I couldn’t put the book down once I got to about chapter three. I really appreciated the way the mysteries were tied up: a few at time, enough to answer some of our questions, but still enough that need to be resolved so that we keep reading. And once the mysteries are resolved and almost everything we’ve wondered about is given answer, there’s no pointless drawn-out chapters afterwards. There’s one last chapter narrating how Duncan’s changed, and then it ends right after the final mystery is uncovered.The characters were all so lovable—especially the cats, who were absolutely adorable. The way they were scripted in makes them seem like people, characters, not just a cat, and I love the way Lynne Jonell did it. However….This book gets harsh, in the sense, when it comes to cats and if you love animals and are sensitive to animals getting hurt, you may not want to read this. It’s nothing horrible and nothing actually happens, but as we read, we find out about horrible happenings and see the results around us. I personally was horrified, however it did not stop me from reading and I just continued on as I knew it was just another cat aspect to the story, something that was going to make the final ending and rescue a lot better (which it did). On the other hand, I almost wish it could’ve been another alternative that the earl was using the kittens for, rather than what it actually was. I was okay with it, but I think a lot of animal-lovers will have to either skip over certain chapters or not read it at all. 
Don’t get me wrong: I LOVED this book. But this one aspect of the storyline was a bit harsh.All in all, another amazing read from Lynne Jonell. I was capitivated from the beginning and it truly lived up to the standards! I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a good fantastical adventure--and a boy who can talk to cats. 5.0 stars.Like my reviews? Follow my blog:

  • Thistle
    2018-08-06 18:03

    I have a confession to make: I'm horrible at seeing plot twists coming. I rarely guess what's going to happen next in a movie or TV show. I think it's because I don't want to know -- if I know, it's a lot less fun. That being said, I saw the answer to every single mystery in this book a mile ahead of time. From the biggest to the smallest, I was able to easily spot what was going to happen.The story was about a boy who can speak the language of cats. How did he learn? Turns out anyone can learn to speak cat at a certain age, it's just that most cats don't bother to teach people. (I loved that detail, it was the high point of the story for me.)The land the boy lived in lost its princess, killed by someone the characters were told was a bad guy. The main character had no idea who his father was. The supposed good guy who was "searching" for the princess happened to kidnap the boy "by mistake". Through the story we learned the truth of who the boy's father was, what happened to the princess, and other very unsurprising things. It was so obvious once you saw all the pieces how they were going to come together.One of the biggest failings of the book was the bad guy. He ate not just cats, but kittens. Okay, author, you write a book about a boy who can talk to cats, thus you know you're likely going to get cat lovers as readers. How amazingly heavy-handed is it to have your bad guy eat kittens? Hell, he ate kitten pot pie with furry ears and tails sticking out of it. What the hell sense does that make? Who would want to eat any meat with the fur still on it?I got about 70% through the book before I started skimming, and once I realized I really had no interested at all in reading the ending, I gave up on it. If I hadn't been able to see every plot twist coming, I probably would have enjoyed it more and finished it.

  • Barbara
    2018-08-06 16:06

    Dulle Island is not the most thrilling place in the world for Duncan McKay. Times are hard for the young boy and his mother, and they get by due to the music lessons she gives to children. Despite the fact that Duncan is smart, though, his mother insists that he put forth less than his best efforts and never shines in the classroom. She also has several odd rules about keeping his head covered and not being noticed, conditions that have started to bother him a great deal. Duncan has a special gift of being able to communicate with cats, and he has several feline friends in the neighborhood. When he comes to the notice of the earl and his henchman, Duncan innocently seizes the chance they offer for a short adventure on the earl's ship. But all is not as it seems, and he quickly realizes that neither man is to be trusted, particularly when he discovers their involvement with the kidnapping of kittens whenever they enter a port. Through a series of strange events, Duncan learns the truth about the earl and ends up on an island inhabited by a tiger named Brigadier and the princess of Arvidia whose father Duncan once served. Eventually, Duncan and his kitten friend Fia, along with Brig, return to civilization to make sure justice is served. The book is filled with swashbuckling adventure and wonderfully heroic acts by felines. It would be hard to imagine anyone not enjoying this one with its secrets, hidden identities, disgusting ingredients for certain items on the menu, and loyal cats. Wouldn't it be wonderful if some of us could speak Cat? Just imagine all the things we might be able to learn from our feline friends. This title would be perfect for middle graders since it has just enough intrigue to keep them interested without getting bogged down in too many political details.

  • Sherri
    2018-08-02 20:39

    **for grades 4-7**Duncan McKay is tired of his quiet life on Dulle island (pun intended) in the island kingdom of Arvidia where he is constantly cautioned by his mother to not stand out, to not do well in school and to always wear his leather cap buckled under his chin. Even though Duncan longs for adventure and attending The Academy at Capital City, nothing can top his desire to know about his father who died when he was a toddler, especially since his mother will only tell him one small detail a year--on his birthday. Despite his mother’s orders to the contrary, Duncan enjoys seeing the new ships that come to his town’s port and is thrilled one day to meet the Earl of Merrick and tour his ship. The Earl is famous throughout the kingdom for trying to rescue the princess after she was kidnapped by the bad Duke Charles and sailed away. The King still hopes his daughter will be found, but it’s been many years now and no news. Now the King’s health is failing and kittens are being reported missing throughout the islands of Arvidia. Is the whole kingdom in peril?Soon Duncan is setting sail with the Earl and beginning a wave of adventures with only a little kitten as his loyal companion--it’s helpful that Duncan is a rare human who knows how to speak cat because he will soon face the most evil of men--a kitten squisher who loves to eat actual kitty pot pie. (this part of the story is not for the squeamish cat lovers).Tweens looking for a fantasy adventure full of danger, mystery and cats will like this story of Duncan’s growth from a boy into a young man who ends up facing more trouble than even he could have ever imagined.

  • American Mensa
    2018-08-15 14:59

    Duncan McKay is a 12-year-old boy who can speak cat. He can never decide if his talent is helpful or not. Sometimes it is, other times it isn’t. There are many other questions he has, too. Why won’t his mother tell him more about his father? Why does she always want him to not stand out in the crowd, not get good grades, and always wear his cap? Will Duncan ever get his questions answered, and maybe become a hero? Who can he trust, and who can’t he? Will getting to know the Earl of Merrick turn Duncan’s life into a happy place, or make things worse? Jonell takes you into a world of adventure and lost secrets.My favorite part of this book was the beginning; it just gave me a true sense of wonder. With all the questions the author posed, it made the story so exciting! Sometimes I even said, “Wow, that’s a great question! I really agree.” This made me have a connection to the story. I also liked the beginning, because I got to learn more about Duncan, his mother, the other cats, and his cat, Grizel.My favorite character was Fia, one of Duncan’s cat friends. She was unique with one green eye and the other blue. I also liked her because she was happy, perky, alert, and friendly, just like me! She liked trying new things, too.I highly recommend this book for boys and girls between the ages of 9-13, that love cats, adventure, and humor. I rated it 5 stars, even though it deserves more than that!Review by Brooke Z., Age 9, Delaware Valley Mensa

  • The Captain
    2018-08-14 16:04

    Ahoy me mateys! A young adult fantasy yarn . . . Adventures on the high seas, deception, surprises, a missing princess and a boy who can speak Cat. What is not to love? This young(er) adult fantasy book has a plucky young boy, Duncan, at the center of the action with his trusty kitten friend, Fia at his side. Duncan starts out on his journey as a young person just wanting to be allowed to succeed and to be allowed to be noticed despite his mother’s wishes. He soon gets what he desires and learns that not everything is as it seems. I enjoyed Duncan’s transition in this novel from dissatisfied but principled youth to mature young adult. The secondary characters of Duncan’s mother, his friend Betsy, and Brig in particular were lovely. Not to mention all of the cats and their quirky personalities and tricks. Trick # 8 ½ being one of my more favorites. Also a super nice touch when reading were the author’s own illustrations at the beginning of each chapter. They are charming and fun. The picture of Mr. Flu . . . I mean Spike! in particular made me laugh. I know this book is aimed towards younger readers (8 to 14 bah!) but if you are looking for a light easy read that revolves around the sea and cats and an epic adventure then this book is for you. I read it in a couple of hours and enjoyed every moment. If you liked this review and want to see others like it go to https://thecaptainsquartersblog.wordp...

  • Hilary
    2018-08-02 19:05

    Duncan lives a life layered in secrets. His fearful mother begs him never to stand out, to hide his academic and physical prowess, to conceal his unusual red hair under a cap, and to stay away from strangers of all sorts. Mysterious visitors come and go from their home late at night, and the details of Duncan’s deceased father, are shrouded in secrecy.But Duncan has a secret of his own, too. He can understand and speak the language of cats. This secret saves, and threatens, Duncan’s life, when he is kidnapped and forced to serve on board the ship of the evil Earl. Fortunately for Duncan, a feisty kitten named Fia has also stowed away aboard the ship. Together the two uncover the Earl’s ghastly ambitions and terrible secrets.The swashbuckling tale of deceit, treachery, and betrayals combines talking cats, a missing princess, thrilling sword fights, and concealed identities with daring acts of bravery and self-sacrifice on the high seas. Readers will thrill to Duncan’s exciting adventures and clamor for more!Will Fia and Duncan be able to return to the kingdom of Arvidia in time to save the king? Will Duncan and Fia ever see their families again? What will become of the lost princess? The open-ending promises more adventures of the engaging duo.

  • Michelle
    2018-07-20 19:53

    Eleven-year-old Duncan excels in academics, sword fighting, and speaking the language of cats. At least he would if his mother let him. But she insists that he never do his best and he must always wear a hat to keep his red hair covered. Confused by his mother's bizarre behavior, Duncan nevertheless does his best to avoid drawing any attention to himself. Until one day a strange ship docks in the harbor. Hoping to make some extra money, Duncan offers his services as an errand boy to the master of the ship. Duncan is thrilled when the ship’s captain, his hero the Earl of Merrick, takes an interest in him. Soon Duncan finds himself sailing away from his mother and his little island on an adventure that will include meeting a princess and using his cat speaking abilities to command a proud tiger names Brigadier. The Sign of the Cat is a swashbuckling tale with intriguing characters. Young readers transitioning to longer chapter books will enjoy this adventure, as the young Duncan learns his true identity. Humor, sailing, swordplay, princesses, and talking cats - this story will quickly gain a following.

  • Liz Friend
    2018-07-27 13:44

    The story: Duncan's mother insists that they hide: Duncan can't show how smart he is, can't uncover his red hair, and certainly isn't going to tell anyone that he knows how to speak Cat. But on the fateful day that he aces the national exam and uncovers his head in public, Duncan ends up kidnapped and a prisoner aboard the ship of the man everyone thinks is a national hero. Even worse...the guy eats cats!?! It's up to Duncan, a spunky kitten named Fia, and a warlike tiger named Brig to recover the lost princess and foil the bad guys. Luckily, they make a pretty awesome team!June Cleaver's ratings: Language PG; Violence PG; Sexual content G; Nudity G; Substance abuse PG; Magic & the occult G (unless you count "speaking Cat" as magic, in which case PG); GLBT content G; adult themes (kidnapping, murder, conspiracy; nothing graphic) PG; overall rating PG.Liz's comments: I wished the hero was a little older (he's "almost" 12) because I thought this story was charming and I wish I could think more MS kids would read it. Maybe Duncan will age up in the next installment?

  • Alice
    2018-08-16 14:01

    Duncan has the unique ability of being the only boy he knows who can speak cat. naturally this is not a skill he wants to be boasting about, which is a shame because his mother has instructed him that he must always fail to do his best. When a ship comes to his small island, Duncan is invited aboard by the heroic Earl of Merrick. The earl seems less heroic when Duncan awakens in a hammock, having been pressed into service by the Earl. As Duncan begins to unravel several mysteries involving missing kittens and his own dead father, he realizes he needs to leave the earl (who apparently eats kittens) so when he has a chance, he foolishly jumps overboard. He washes up on an island where he meets a tiger and two other shipwrecked folks. As Duncan pieces together the story of his father's death, and the shipwrecked folks, he soon learns who he really is and what he must do to get back home.

  • Dana
    2018-08-04 21:41

    I loved this book! A boy who can talk cat who is kidnapped and trained as a ship's boy. A missing princess. "It would have been so much better with a tiger". And of course, there was Brig, the tiger. Cats and kittens and bad guys and so much adventure! I think that kids in grades 4-8 will enjoy this book, although sensitive children should beware and stay away because kittens are squished, ground, and eaten. There is not a lot of description of that, but it is one thing the bad guy does, so be aware. I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I enjoyed the story very much.

  • Yapha
    2018-08-06 14:46

    Duncan's mother wants him to remain unremarkable and not draw attention, but she won't tell him why. He has to keep his head covered, not be the best at anything, and never go down to the wharf when a strange ship docks. There is one remarkable thing about Duncan though -- he can speak Cat. Duncan follows his mother's rules for the most part, until the day he decides to do his best on the Academy entrance exams. This sets in motion a chain of events that realizes his mother's worst fears. An exciting adventure filled with ships, royalty, and treason. Highly recommended for grades 4 and up.

  • Karen
    2018-08-08 16:58

    Loved this creative story about a boy that can speak "cat" and how he solves the mystery of finding out who his real father is and why his mother is always telling him to "blend in". The cat characters in this story are brilliant, especially the tiger named Brigadier. Cats are wonderful spies because they are so quiet, and no one really notices them! The story is full of adventure and survival, and will keep most readers fully-engaged. Grades 3-6

  • Lynn
    2018-08-04 16:02

    I wonder if the publisher was trying to emulate "The Life of Pi" with the cover image, and since I was not a fan of that book, I almost did not read this one. Glad I did read it! Realistic details provided sufficient material for my 'mental movie' and a number of original angles kept this from being just another 'lost at sea' story. And one particular angle may make even the strongest stomach a bit spoiler here!

  • Vickiw
    2018-07-21 15:04


  • Lindy MacLaine
    2018-08-06 17:48

    This book carries those irresistable themes of unexpected adventure, and the promise of finding out you are someone special—true identity revealed. I love that the protagonist, Duncan, can speak "cat"—what a fun way to bring non-human characters to life, and to honor those friendships/bonds we have with animals. Thanks for the great read, Lynne Jonell!

  • Molly Dettmann
    2018-08-14 16:48

    This was definitely a cute read. I can see kids who love The Warriors series liking all the talking cats and cat stuff in it, and any kid who likes a good action/adventure on the sea would like it too. It did a lot of build-up that made it one of those that I had to push through to finish, but overall not a bad read.

  • Serina
    2018-07-28 16:58

    Takes the boy half the book to figure out, what you the reader already know. Other than that a different read and if you love cats, you should love this book. It gets a little bogged down at times, but pulls the story together well enough.

  • Jessica
    2018-08-16 21:48

    Good story with some nice mystery and humor. The cat talking thing was weird but made it funny, and I love Fia and Brig. I think kids who like fantasy would enjoy it. I received this ARC from Netgalley.