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Literature / Guardian Cats And The Lost Books Of Alexandria

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When Marco read, he forgot he was a cat.

Guardian Cats and the Lost Books of Alexandria is a 2011 novel by Rahma Krambo.

Marco is a normal housecat with one unusual trait: He can read. Marco loves reading his owners books when they're sleeping, until one day his comfortable life is overhauled. His owners, Lucy and her grandmother, mysteriously disappear one evening. Unsure how to go on without his owners, Marco reluctantly starts living as a street cat. Marco eventually ends up in a library. There he meets an old tom named Cicero. Cicero seems something in Marco and reluctantly offers him a choice: stay safe while reading other's adventures or go on a real journey?

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Guardian Cats and the Lost Books of Alexandria is about a young cat named Marco who becomes a Guardian-in-training to a magical book called The Book of Motion. The Book contains knowledge far beyond the understanding of science and, as a result, it must be guarded at all times. For hundreds of years cats have guarded the Book. The current Guardian, Cicero, is an old cat that has already outlived his expected lifespan. He needs a successor but his past attempts have failed. Marco might be his last hope.


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This book provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Professor Chin's father would beat him, especially whenever he tried to protect his mother from him.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: Justified due to the differences between cat and human vision. Marco sees humans in shades of blue and green.
  • Artistic License – Animal Care: Polo gets into a stash of granola, dried fruit, and nuts, Ferrets are obligate carnivores who can't properly digest vegetation. Raisins and chocolate are also deadly to ferrets.
  • Babies Ever After: The book ends with Marco and the now-adult Lily having had kittens.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: As a child, Leo decided to take care of a stray kitten. When his abusive step-father found out, he beat Leo and then forced his wife to drown the kitten. The experience traumatized Leo so much that he has a phobia of cats, to the point where he has nightmares about them trying to suffocate him in revenge.
  • Bookworm:
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    • After Marco gains the ability to read, he instantly becomes addicted to books.
    • The Dead Cats Society is a group for cats who know how to read and enjoy reading. They can discuss works together and pass on their knowledge to other cats.
    • Subverted with Professor Chin. He reads books often, but not because he's a bibliophile. He only uses them as a means to an end.
  • The Bus Came Back: Lucy and her grandmother disappear in the first chapter after a medical emergency. Lucy appears again in the final chapter, hanging out at the library.
  • Cats Are Superior: Downplayed when Cicero mentions that cats generally have a major flaw about being too prideful.
  • Character Tics: Professor Chin has a nervous tic massaging his wrists and fingers.
  • Code of Honour: The Dead Cats Society has a Code that they swear by.
  • Deceptive Disciple: Bait was this to Cicero. He looked like a good successor, but he was actually hiding his negative traits. Bait didn't have the pureness needed to be a Guardian. He wanted to use the Book's powers for his own gain.
  • Disney Villain Death: While fighting Marco, Bait slips off the library roof during a thunderstorm and falls sixty feet to his death. A crack of thunder made him lose his balance. Subverted a few moments later when it turns out that he survived.
  • Domestic Abuse: Growing up, Chin's father would beat both him and his mother. It's implied that Chin's father had something to do with his mother's death, either indirectly or directly.
  • Drowning Unwanted Pets: Leo Chin is traumatized because his abusive father told his mother to drown a stray cat he was taking care of as a child. He has a phobia of cats and has nightmares about cats trying to drown him.
  • Eye Scream: Chin wears an eyepatch because a bird, or more specifically Cicero in the form of a bird, tore out one of his eyes.
  • Fantastic Racism: Cicero considers Polo, a ferret, undignified and not worthy of his friendship. The raccoons also make fun of Polo by calling him a rat.
  • The Fashionista: Caffeina likes reading cat-themed fashion and care magazines like Cat Fashion.
  • Freudian Excuse: Professor Chin wants to create a world where no one will die, which is implied to be because he's traumatized over his father killing his mother. He, however, wants to rule as a tyrant by having everyone listen to him. This need for recognition, and his nervous nature, stems from his childhood abuse.
  • Furry Reminder: Marco is smart for a cat, but he still thinks his reflection is another cat.
  • Genki Girl: Polo, being a ferret, is extremely hyperactive and friendly.
  • Groin Attack: During the burning of the Alexandria library, one of the perpetrators kicks a librarian in his groin.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Cicero lures the hellhound Bodis outdoors by jumping out a window. He lures Bodis out, but breaks his neck in the process.
  • Hostage Situation: The raccoons hold Polo hostage in exchange for the Book. They threaten to kill him if their demands aren't met.
  • Infant Immortality: Lily gets attacked by Professor Chin and it looks like he may have killed her, but she was only unconscious.
  • Magical Romani: Professor Chin is half-Romani on his mother's side, though he rejects that side of his heritage. His knowledge of magic comes from his childhood experiences in Romania. His Romani heritage also puts him at conflict with the titular cats. He was raised with the Romani superstition that cats are evil.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Cicero does die at the end of the book by jumping out a window. However, there are implications that he turned into, or reincarnated, into a gryphon.
  • Mentor's New Hope: Cicero realizes he's near death but he needs to find a successor. He had previously looked for successors and almost came close with Bait, but he never found a suitable cat. Marco's kindness and courage helps renew his hope.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: Early on, there's the line "Another voice chimed in, and Marco learned a few words he'd never read in books".
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Skitzo claims that his real name isn't that, but it's never clarified if that's true or not.
  • A Pet Into The Wild:
    • Marco is forced onto the streets after his owners are "kidnapped". More precisely, Lucy's grandmother had a medical emergency and Lucy was presumably sent with her parents while her grandmother was ill, but Marco was left behind by accident.
    • The Dead Cats Society is made up of strays. For example, Bait was a pampered pedigree until he scratched his owner's new kitten and was kicked out. Tweezer stays at a rescue with other cats but it's more as if they're strays who are taken care of by humans.
    • Polo is a stray ferret, though his background isn't discussed.
  • Preppy Name: Bait is described as an "aristocratic" cat. His full name is Baitengirth.
  • Primal Fear: After what happened to the old library of Alexandria, Cicero is afraid of fire.
  • Punny Name: Skitzo is a wary, paranoid cat.
  • Red Is Heroic: Marco is an orange tabby who loves adventure stories. He's The Chosen One appointed to guard The Book of Motion.
  • Science Is Good: The plot of the book revolves around the importance of science and learning about science.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Slut-Shaming: Done in kid-friendly terms. One of the signs that Bait wasn't a good successor to Cicero was how he had once accused Caffeina of being a "tramp".
  • Somewhere, a Mammalogist Is Crying:
    • Polo, a ferret, has a Sweet Tooth. Ferrets are obligate carnivores who can't taste sweetness.
    • Bait is a purebred Russian Blue who has won several awards at cat shows. His eyes, however, are the wrong colour. He has yellow eyes, which are considered a flaw in show cats. Show Russian Blues must have green eyes.
  • Tagline: "In the wrong hand some books are dangerous. And some libraries can be positively deadly".
  • Theme Naming: Marco befriends a ferret named "Polo". Cicero lampshades this when he refers to Marco Polo as Marco's namesake.
  • This Is My Human: Downplayed. Though Cicero does acknowledge that humans own cats, he also believes that cats take care of humans as their sentinels. It's a mutual relationship. Cats refer to "their humans" but it's used personally rather than possessively.
  • Trash of the Titans: Polo is a ferret who loves hoarding trash as his "treasure".
  • Vague Age:
    • Marco has a youthful sense of adventure and wonder. At one point Alaniah compares him to a kit, but he's predominantly treated as a full-grown cat.
    • Lily is one of Gypsy's kittens but it's never clarified how old she is. In the epilogue (which takes place several months after the previous chapter), she's old enough to have kittens with Marco. While most cats can get pregnant by seven months, it's not recommended that they try until they're at least twelve months.
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