Corrine Fenton (text) and Craig Smith (illustrator), A Cat Called Trim, Allen & Unwin, April 2019, 32 pp., RRP $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781760631840
The story of the cat Trim’s has often been told. This time we learn a little more about how he became Matthew Flinders’ companion, and that sailor’s last days with him. Trim was born on the Reliance, saved from a watery death by Flinders, went with him on the Norfolk, then on the Investigator, the Porpoise and the Cumberland.. He travelled the world and was a part of Flinders’ crew when he mapped the coast of Australia. The endpapers have maps of his voyages around the world showing the compass of Flinders’ range. Trim also went to prison with his master, which was where his story ends.
Smith’s dark illustrations bring stormy oceans to life as these little ships struggle to stay afloat through giant waves, even when one ship is wrecked. At such times Flinders had to think of the crew rather than his cat, but the sailor always ensured that Trim would be properly cared for in his absence.
It provides thoughtful insights into the man who named Australia and is a fine story, well told and illustrated with panache for a new generation, so that they may appreciate the courage of both navigator and cat.
Reviewed by Stella Lees