Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Varjak Paw (Varjak Paw #1)” as Want to Read:
Varjak Paw  (Varjak Paw #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Varjak Paw (Varjak Paw #1)

4.11  ·  Rating Details ·  3,199 Ratings  ·  271 Reviews
Mesopotamian Blue cat, Varjak Paw, has never been Outside before; he and his family have always lived in the isolated house at the top of the hill. But Varjak is forced out into the city when the sinister Gentleman and his two menacing cats take over his home. With help from his mystical ancestor, Jalal, Varjak manages to overcome challenges such as self-survival and a thr ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 10th 2005 by Yearling (first published 2003)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Varjak Paw, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Juci This is probably a moot question by now, but yes, I believe that the illustrations greatly enhance this story. :)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details

first, let's focus on the artwork, because i saw this cover somewhere and i knew that i needed to read this book, no matter what its contents. i really do love dave mckean. he has been responsible for some of my favorite jonathan carroll covers, and the man just really knows how to draw cats.

he manages to get cat mannerisms down perfectly with such an economy of line - i love it. the only person whose cats even come close, and with a totally different tone is jeffrey brown:

he gets all the cute s
Kagama-the Literaturevixen
Apr 15, 2014 Kagama-the Literaturevixen rated it really liked it
Book no 1 of the 16 cat books


Varjak Paw is the only one in his family of noble Mesopotamian Blue cats whose eyes arent green and he is constantly teased and ridiculed for this reason.His older brother even claims this is the reason their owner-the Contessa has stoppedvisiting them and only stays in her room.

One who doesnt make fun of him is his grandfather the Elder Paw and Varjak loves to listen to him tell stories about their ancestor Jalals adventures.
Bethany Sawford
Aug 19, 2015 Bethany Sawford rated it liked it
I originally gave this book 2 stars, I felt it was unrealistic and dull, no doubt because the whole idea of a kung-fu cat turned me off before I had even started reading, so I didn't give it a chance. Upon discussion, I realised I was being unfair and was persuaded to re-read it. The second time I found myself liking the characters, even though I knew the ending I still worried when they were in danger and felt their true friendships on the cold hard streets of the city, I willed them on their w ...more
John Velo
Mar 22, 2016 John Velo rated it really liked it
I bought this at a book sale one day and I only bought it because it had a cat on its cover...and I am not disappointed. What can I say? I'm a cat person!

Although this is more of a children's book and I could totally predict what could happen, I still found myself enjoying it. Teaches some lessons and the artwork is pretty neat.
A Severs
Oct 22, 2016 A Severs rated it it was amazing
Almost a life manual for us all. The idea that no one is too special to help others and that comfort zones hold us back seem to have special relevance to the UK's current treatment of refugees.

Clever writing and brilliant characters - it's easy sometimes to forget it's about cats!
Aaron Campling
Aug 21, 2012 Aaron Campling rated it really liked it

This thrilling story follows Varjak Paw, a Mesopotamian Blue cat living in the house of Contessa on top of a hill. His family bully and ignore him, and his eyes are the 'colour of danger'. Varjak Paw is successfully portrayed as different to everybody else (something that some children may be able to relate to), and soon becomes increasingly desperate to see the world outside of the Contessa's house, something he has never done.

The Contessa soon becomes sick, and when a sinister man with two bl
Althea Ann
Jun 09, 2010 Althea Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I saw this book in the store, and the cat on the front cover was so adorable that I had to buy it for my sister. Of course, then I had to read it before giving it to her!
This is definitely a kids' book - not even YA, but for younger children.
However - it's also an excellent book. McKean's illustrations are perfect for the characters and the story.
Varjak is a young Mesopotamian Blue cat who's been brought up to think he's something special. However, when his owner disappears and a strange and sin
Sep 05, 2015 Emily rated it liked it
Το βιβλίο προορίζεται για μια πολύ στενή ηλικιακή ομάδα, αυτή των 8-14 ετών. Για την ομάδα αυτή είναι ενδιαφέρον, ευκολοδιάβαστο και με μηνύματα που παλεύουν να μην ισοπεδωθούν από τη σκληρή πραγματικότητα.
Στους υπόλοιπους δεν μπορεί να δώσει κάτι, πέραν του να περάσουν την ώρα τους όταν δεν υπάρχει κάτι καλύτερο να κάνουν.

Ένας συμπαθής, άβγαλτος γάτος ράτσας (μάθαμε και τη ράτσα Μπλε της Μεσοποταμίας) φεύγει από το σπίτι του για να γνωρίσει το Έξω. Σιγά σιγά και με τη βοήθεια πιο περπατημένων
Oct 19, 2015 Sarah rated it it was amazing
This novel is so much more than a story about a cat leaving its sheltered home life for the city in search of a dog to save his family. It works on many different levels to question life as an outcast; from your own family, from your own society and your own environment. The main character, Varjak Paw is given advice with almost mystical, Eastern powers to solve problems that he encounters on his journey; if he chooses to apply them, and these help him to become streetwise and learn more about t ...more
Sophie Gray
Dec 24, 2014 Sophie Gray rated it it was amazing
My boyfriend suggested I read this while I was ill this week (I was reading Station Eleven, which is not a comforting book when you've got the flu!!) and it was a brilliant idea. A really lovely story with beautiful illustrations, which genuinely touched me.
Penny Raspenny
I can't begin to explain how awesome this book is.
Review to come
Hajra Natha
Aug 27, 2015 Hajra Natha rated it really liked it
Varjak Paw – by S F Said
The outside world was a mystery and any adventures Varjak Paw had were through the stories his grandfather told him about heroic ancestor martial arts expert, Jalal and his travels around the world.
Varjak Paw is a Mesopotamian Blue cat, with bright golden yellow coloured eyes which are described as the colour of danger. Varjak Paw lives with the rest of his family in the countess’s house on top of the hill. His family consists of his parents, grandfather, and four sibling
Apr 23, 2014 Zahara rated it liked it
Varjak Paw by S. F. Said
A tale of Varjak the cat, descendant of the great Jalal, finding his identify in the big world. Varjak an outcast grew up with his parents and his siblings being told the story of Jalal by his grandfather. Jalal was a brave and courageous cat who after 100 years has left a legacy for his descendents to follow. Varjak Paw years to have an adventurous life where he can show his siblings he is worthy of being a descendent of Jalal. His opportunity arises when the countess d
Jul 08, 2014 Kaethe rated it really liked it
Once again a matriarchal society has been transformed into a patriarchal one, largely inhabited by male characters, but still, it's about cats, so I had to love it. Plus I really love that cover with the golden eyes. And yes, I did google to see if the breed really existed.


Casting about for the next read-aloud after the Penderwicks, we struck on this. Glad I finished it last month. Also, very glad that the McKean illustrations aren't as disturbing as the ones he does for Gaimain's books.


Rhian Loxley
Jun 10, 2012 Rhian Loxley rated it it was amazing
Varjak Paw is a Mesopotamium Blue kitten, living in a house on top of a hill, he has never left the high walls that surround the Contessa's garden.

His family are happy to recline in the knowledge that a strange man will feed them caviar, as they admire their own handsome pedigree. Varjak however is bored, an outcast, unlike his siblings his name doesn't begin with J and he has eyes the colour of danger - he is desperate to see the world outside of the contessa's house. Armed with the wise words
This is an entertaining novel, beautifully illustrated. It tells the story of one Varjak Paw, a cat from a noble line of Mesapotamian Blues. Varjak is a bit of an outcast in his family, what with his obsession with going Outside and his dislike of simply sitting around looking dignified. When the Countess (the owner of Varjak and his family) dies, a sinister man with two even more sinister black cats comes into the picture. Varjak must escape to the Outside, learn the cat martial arts, and retur ...more
Sophie Mc
Jun 13, 2012 Sophie Mc rated it it was amazing
'Varjak Paw' by S.F.Said is a great read for children studying at KS2. The story follows the main character Varjak who had always lived an easy life up until he was forced out of his home by the Gentleman and his two horrible cats. As the story unravels we learn about Varjak's struggle to come to terms with living, and more importantly, surviving on the streets. We inevitably read about how Varjak comes up against rival gangs and of the battles he faces against them. At times the story can be qu ...more
India Lees
I thoroughly enjoyed Varjak Paw. Initially, i found it hard to get into, as i didn't understand where the story was going. However, i persevered and once i got past the first couple of chapters i was hooked. The story explores many themes: family bonds, friendship and journeys. Would be a great cross-curricular topic book to use in year 3/4, and could lead onto some interesting character exploration work. The only downside to the book, is the ending, as it feels rushed and is slightly confusing ...more
Jun 10, 2008 Damon rated it really liked it
I got this because it had Dave McKean illustrations in it, and as an extra bonus those illustrations were of cats. That's one guy who can draw a cat... But I wound up really enjoying it - it's pretty obviously for a younger audience, and it's sort of about a cat that learns martial arts, but the story was pretty good, and I didn't feel stupider when I finished it, which I feel is often the case with "children's literature". A quick read, but worth the time.
middle school battle of the books
Was OK. I'm not usually into the anthropomorphic thing. This is a good book about self acceptance. Recommend to younger middle schoolers.
Niamh Meagher
Jan 01, 2014 Niamh Meagher rated it it was amazing
My new favourite book.
Jan 05, 2009 Terilin rated it it was amazing
This is a family favorite. Shey especially loves that he's on the cover. This truly is a fantastic read even if you're not a cat person. There's a dog in this story too!
Kat (Lost in Neverland)
Eh, it was okay. Weird, short, the pictures were awesome.
Mar 22, 2015 Talon rated it really liked it
A good, dark story.
Miss Cleveland
Feb 11, 2017 Miss Cleveland rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is a re-read of a book I first enjoyed over 10 years ago, and am about to use with a group of my Year 5’s for Key Skills, and with my Year 3&4 Telling Tales Book Club, just because I can!

Well, if I'm being totally honest, it's also because Scholastic asked me if I'd like to try one of their Read and Respond titles, and I jumped at the opportunity, when I saw this was one of their range. I had forgotten just how much I love this story!

Varjak Paw is a Mesopotamian Blue, who loves the Elde
Mar 12, 2017 Lydia rated it it was amazing
Varjak Paw was one of my favorite childhood books!
Mar 01, 2017 Declan rated it it was amazing
it has a good base story and the plot does not lose interest.the author answers most of a typical readers questions.
Charlotte Jones
Dec 10, 2013 Charlotte Jones rated it it was amazing
‘Varjak Paw’ was a book that I owned when I was a lot younger, read it but didn’t remember any of it. Leena from justkissmyfrog on Youtube talked about ‘Phoenix’ by the same author and mentioned this so she inspired me to seek out a copy of ‘Varjak Paw’! I found a second-hand copy in a charity shop for 49p and definitely couldn’t leave it there.

This is a children’s book and so the print is on the large side and there are illustrations throughout. I loved the illustrations and will do a separate
Catarina Araújo
Jun 10, 2012 Catarina Araújo rated it liked it
Varjak Paw é um gato muito curioso, como todos os gatos, e, como todos os gatos, sente vontade de explorar o mundo. Ele vive num casarão, no alto de uma colina, de onde nunca saiu. A dona é uma velha condessa doente que já mal veem pela casa. A família de Paw não o trata muito bem por ele ser diferente e isso faz com que Varjak tenha uma ânsia especial em se afirmar.

Quando a casa é tomada por um homem com más intenções, acompanhado de dois gatos ameaçadores, o avô Paw pede a Varjak para encontra
Dec 21, 2014 Erica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • The Tygrine Cat
  • Guardian Cats and the Lost Books of Alexandria
  • The Wild Road (The Wild Road, #1)
  • The Fur Person
  • The Nine Lives of Montezuma
  • Carbonel: The King of Cats (Carbonel, #1)
  • Raven Quest
  • Ratha's Creature (The Named, #1)
  • Crookedstar's Promise (Warriors Super Edition #4)
  • Gobbolino The Witch's Cat (Kingfisher Classics)
  • Guide Book To The Great Tree (Guardians Of Ga'hoole)
  • The Cat Who Walked a Thousand Miles
  • Ripple
  • Catfantastic
  • The Book of Night with Moon (Cats of Grand Central, #1)
  • The Mob
Said grew up in the Iraqi diasporic community in London, moving there with his mother at the age of two. After graduating from the University of Cambridge, he worked as a press attaché and speech writer for the Crown Prince of Jordan’s office in London. He began a Ph.D. in 1997 looking at the lives of young Muslims in Britain, but left academia to focus on film journalism for the Daily Telegraph – ...more
More about S.F. Said...

Other Books in the Series

Varjak Paw (2 books)
  • The Outlaw Varjak Paw

Share This Book

“Believe something is impossible,’ said his ancestor calmly, ‘and you will surely fail. But believe in yourself and you can do anything.” 8 likes
More quotes…