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The Cat at the Wall

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  528 Ratings  ·  109 Reviews
A cat sneaks into a small Palestinian house on the West Bank that has just been commandeered by two Israeli soldiers. The house seems empty, until the cat realizes that a little boy is hiding beneath the floorboards.

Should she help him?

After all, she’s just a cat.

Or is she?

It turns out that this particular cat is not used to thinking about anyone but herself. She was once
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published September 1st 2014 by Groundwood Books
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Lil E. The soldiers' names are Aaron and Simcha. The Girl's name is Clare.

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The little cat that is the narrator of the story is not your typical cat. This cat is Clare, or was Clare rather, as Clare is apparently dead and cat is her reincarnated form. The cat tells of how she just woke up a cat on the wall between Israel and Palestine, retaining her memories of her former human life – and how she has to hunt for food and evade other cats that beat her up. Life for a cat on a warfront is portrayed very well, and a clever way to get the reader to understand the issues and ...more
Dec 10, 2014 rated it it was ok
A disappointment. The book is narrated by a cat trapped in a Palestinian house on the West Bank commandered by two Israeli solders, where a young Arab boy is hiding. The cat is a reincarnated young girl from the U.S., and the narative goes ack and forth between the circumstances of her unfortunate death and escalating tensions once the neighbors surround the house. It did not work for me.
A spoiled, eighth grade brat finally learns some of life's hard lessons when she dies and is reincarnated as a cat in Palestine.

Yeah, it's a weird premise, but Deborah Ellis does a better job with it than I was expecting. It may be difficult for children to understand if they don't know anything about the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict? There are a few acronyms that aren't explained (IDF) and could be confusing. I think it's a good opener for kids to learn about the occupation, though.

I'm sure som
Feb 19, 2016 rated it it was ok

Un contexte fort qui aurait pu être traité de façon intéressante mais la situation de guerre est davantage pour l’auteur une façon de transmettre un message de paix de tolérance. Beaucoup de pages développent la vie humaine de l’héroïne et j’ai trouvé que cela rendait le roman moins intéressant, ce qui est dommage.

Ma chronique :
Cordelia Shan
Apr 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
A great story.
I am reading this book as a part of my job, but I really enjoyed reading this book.
I could say more about it once I have more time.
Barb Middleton
A thirteen-year-old American girl dies in a car accident and is reincarnated as a cat living in West Bank in the midst of the Israeli-Pakistan conflict. I know. Bizarre premise. But the author pulls it off and the plot is not about religion - it's about redemption. It's about getting a second chance to do the right thing and doing it even though you are a cat. It's a sad story about a girl that blames herself for her grandma's death and bullies those around her to feel secure and powerful. It's ...more
Cheriee Weichel
Nov 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
From my blog at

I'm not going to lie to you. This is a disturbing book. Then again, Deborah Ellis has never been shy to take on difficult topics.

It starts out innocently enough. Clare, our narrator, begins by telling us that she died and came back as a cat. Then she proceeds to say that something happened a few days ago that she can't stop thinking about.

Initially, Clare was a thirteen year old girl who lived in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She was hit by a t
Mena D.
Apr 05, 2016 rated it really liked it

I currently finished reading and interesting and a mysterious book called “The Cat At The Wall”, and it is by Deborah Ellis. It is a fiction book about a girl named Clara who died and then after turned into a cat. Clara thinks it was Ms. Zero’s fault that she died. After all that, she sneaks into a Palestinian home, were there was two Israeli soldiers. Nevertheless, when she got into the house, she saw a little boy hiding under some floorboards. Clara doesn’t know if she should help the little b
In search of food and companionship, a stray cat slips into a tiny house in Palestine as two Israeli soldiers decide to use it as a base for surveillance. It turns out that the house is not as empty as the soldiers had thought it was, and the soldiers don’t know what to do with Omar, the boy who has been hiding there. One event leads to another, and before they know it, the men are not as hidden as they thought they were. Omar's teacher and classmates come looking for him, and others come by the ...more
Aug 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Well worth the read - Ellis deals with an impressive many themes in this short book, and does so with fantastic ease. It's a strange premise for a story, but the author does a great job with it, succeeding in making a surprisingly likeable character out of a very bratty eighth-grader and managing to humanise both sides of the conflict. So many good messages in here, and could surely be enjoyed by younger and older readers alike.
Sheila Bigelow
May 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
While the concept of the narrator being the reincarnation of a thirteen-year-old girl is a bit strange, Deborah Ellis manages to interweave the narratives of the child and the cat into a story of amazing complexity for such a short book. As the girl's much-despised teacher says toward the end, "Context is everything," and perhaps nowhere is that more true than in the West Bank. And I am going to Google Max Ehrmann's poem, "Desiderata."
Nov 23, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: red-maple-2016
The Cat at the Wall was just plain boring. It kept going from living to cat and just got confusing. I would agree with Clare about Mrs.Zero being a bad teacher to have in grade 8. There was a little to much discipline for that age. I don't understand why Clare was always rude to be family, and others. She had no reason too. I only kept reading the book to see how see died. Aaron, one of the soldiers, was a very nice man. He fed the boy and the cat when they were in the boys house.
Apr 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating and thought provoking story. It is not dissimilar to Jennie by Paul Galico, however, of a lesser level. The subject I believe is well above that of the target child/young adult audience.
May 18, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: ya
My 6th Grader brought this home because it had been nominated for a Red Maple Award. The book is insulting to Israelis, Palestinians and its readers. It's basically the Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad, but for the Israel-Palestine conflict.
(1) It is the embodiment of white privilege - The conflict is treated like a life lesson for a spoiled North American kid. So, in the end, a poor brown kid's suffering all served the purpose of teaching life lessons to a wealthy white kid. How can the lesson of the bo
Clare is a pampered, snobbish, conceited bully who dies at age thirteen. She is reincarnated as a cat whose only goal is survival in war-torn Bethlehem. Survival, that is until she finds herself in the home of a Palestinian family now occupied by two Israeli soldiers. Observing and listening to these men, the little boy hiding there and reciting the Desiderata, and the community outside -- people of hatred and people of peace -- bring back memories of her past life. Maybe now she can find an opp ...more
Lisa  Shamchuk
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
I did not want to read this book, but I felt compelled by the blurb and wanted to know the ending. The story set in Palestine is interesting, and a fascinating look at life within the conflict. This, plus the fact that it's about a cat, would've been right up my alley when I was 8-12 years old. I'm certain I would've read this book if it had been around then. But would I have enjoyed it? Probably not - because the flashbacks to the girl's former life are super annoying - she is spoiled, pretenti ...more
Dec 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Compelling story of a girl who is reincarnated as a cat in Bethlehem and the lessons she learns. Fabulous quick read.
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was interesting. I went into it thinking it was going to be pro Israeli or pro Palestine but I was surprised to find it was neither. I liked it, odd though a book narrated by a cat is.
Alors lorsque j'ai vu ce livre dans les possibilités de réceptions, je me suis dit que j'aimerais beaucoup le lire. Pourquoi ? Tout simplement parce je suis dans une période où je veux avoir une trace écrite de ce qui passe sur notre belle planète. Pour montrer à nos enfants que la vie n'est pas parfaite partout et qu'il faut réagir. Je n'avais pas encore de livre sur le sujet de la Cisjordanie et la Palestine, mais cela m'intéressait beaucoup et surtout de voir comment cela était amené à des en ...more
Brit McCarthy
This book pleasantly surprised me. Actually, I feel like that statement is not accurate. It took me by surprise, for sure, it was moving and powerful and deeply eye opening, but maybe pleasant is the wrong word to use. I have not read enough literature from developing countries and to be honest I don’t know anything about the Israel/Palestine conflict so there was some of this that was new to me, which makes me think it could also be difficult for the middle grade readers it was intended for. Bu ...more
Jenny Huang
65% — 3.25 stars

"Look for the good in people, Clare-bear. If you look for it, I guarantee you will find it."

Hmmm, interesting. It was pretty nice; honestly the best of what I'd read of her works. Despite it being very short, I had enjoyed it more than I did the other two Red Maple books I've read.

Clare is just a thirteen-year-old girl. Well she used to be; now she's a cat prowling the streets of Bethlehem, Israel/Palestine. In her lifetime, she'd been sweet in public, vicious when private—was

Kata (beforewonderland)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Philip Hahm
Feb 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book because it's a story about a girl named Clare, who had apparently died and had reincarnated into a cat. She can listen and understand the human language but she cannot communicate back. She eventually runs into a pair of Israeli soldiers that are inside a house, searching for suspicious activity. However, the Israeli soldiers didn't notice the boy who was hiding. He was later found because of Clare's meowing, making it easier for the soldiers to find him. They were all ...more
Heidi Kennedy
Feb 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s
I had not read any of Deborah Ellis’ writing for young people before and it was the strange premise of The Cat at the Wall that prompted me to read this book. Clare was an apparently spoilt and self-centred northern American 13 year old girl who dies in an accident and is somehow re-born as a little cat scraping out bare survival on the West Bank. She winds up trapped in a house with Omar, a little Palestinian boy and two young Israeli soldiers. While the unlikely band remains trapped together t ...more
Claire McNerney
Nov 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
I’m going to be honest: I never would have read this book if it wouldn’t have stayed at the library last Friday. It’s realistic fiction, it’s sad, and it revolves around a serious problem. I would usually never have read something like this. But drawn in by the cover, I did. It’s about a girl named Clare who dies, and then is reincarnated as a Cat in Bethlehem. She ends up in a house with an orphaned boy and two soldiers. She tells of her old life as a middle schooler and of her new life as a ca ...more
Adele Broadbent
A stray black cat slinks through the night on the edge of the town of Bethlehem. She’s hungry and she doesn’t like being a cat at all. She used to be a 13 year old girl called Clare living in another town called Bethlehem far away.

When Clare is chased through the night by a territorial tomcat, she escapes inside a house as two Israeli soldiers force their way in. They plan to use the house as a vantage point to watch the neighborhood for any enemy movement.

Clare doesn’t care what they are there
Feb 16, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: red-maple-2016
This is a dumb book.

Checklist for a dumb book:

Set the book in a real, complex place that is ravaged by bloodshed and sorrow and tell the reader nothing about it.

Limit yourself to four characters. One is a cat (the narrator!). One is a boy who doesn't really have a speaking part. One is a good and true soldier, a fine man, perhaps. The last is an ugly American by birth, now taking an unwanted stint in the Israeli Defense Force. If you want character traits, stick to good and evil (venial): good b
Titis Wardhana
Perang di mata seekor kucing...

Clare, 13 tahun, pada awalnya murid yang belum pernah mendapat hukuman dengan nilai straight A. Sampai pada suatu hari datanglah guru baru yang langsung diberi nickname Ms. Zero sama Clare dan crew-nya.
Ms. Zero ini membacakan sebuah puisi yang cukup panjang pada awal pertemuan dan dia membuat puisi itu sebagai hukuman. Kalau ada yang bersalah, maka murid tersebut harus menulis ulang puisi itu.
Clare yang dari awal tidak suka dengan Ms. Zero mulai mendapat masalah, s
Feb 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Check out more reviews on my blog!

The Cat at the Wall follows Clare, who isn’t like any other teenage girl: she’s been reincarnated as a cat. She used to live in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, until she died at the age of 13. For the past year, she’s been living in the West Bank of Palestine. She stumbles upon a house that’s being used by two soldiers. Clare thinks the soldiers are the only ones in the building, until she finds a young boy hiding under the floor
Valentina M
Oct 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 6-grade
The Cat at the Wall by Deborah Ellis is a book about Claire, is a cat who was once a girl.
She was intelligent but sassy. When she was a girl she didn't like her teachers and did not do good in school. She barely had any friends as a girl because she pushed them away. When she died, she turned into a cat. Later Claire meets a boy hiding in an house and realizes that she must start acting differently. Later in the book this little boy gets captured by soldiers. Will Claire do anything to help him
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Deborah Ellis has achieved international acclaim with her courageous and dramatic books that give Western readers a glimpse into the plight of children in developing countries.

She has won the Governor General's Award, Sweden's Peter Pan Prize, the Ruth Schwartz Award, the University of California's Middle East Book Award, the Jane Addams Children's Book Award and the Vicky Metcalf Award.

A long-t
More about Deborah Ellis

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