A picture book in six chapters by much-loved and acclaimed picture-book creators Anna Fienberg and Stephen Michael King. The irrepressible Figaro and his cat-friend Rumba get caught up in cat-napping adventure when they ride the Very Fast Train.
Anna Fienberg is the author of many popular and award-winning books for children of all ages. Stephen Michael King is a very well respected and popular illustrator, who has created Figaro and Rumba just as Anna imagined them.
This is a beautifully published book with a vibrant and inviting cover. The story brings together the talents of Anna Fienberg, author of the popular Tashi series, with well known illustrator Stephen Michael King. It is a tale of two loyal friends whose distinct personalities mimic many comfortable friendships. The buoyant Figaro and his even keeled cat pal from Cuba, Rumba, share a close friendship and they quickly become very likeable characters to the reader. After a series of unusual events they finally get to ride on The Very Fast Train, a trip they have been waiting for. When they meet a smooth talking and cunning crocodile they find themselves experiencing more adventure than they bargained for, and their loyalty comes to the fore.
Written in 6 chapters and beautifully set out, this story is certain to delight. Each page is bordered, and has companion illustrations that range from small pictures to page spreads. With hints of humour, and a range of other engaging characters, this book is certain to become a favourite for children who enjoy picture books, but are ready for a longer story.
Katharine York, Teacher Librarian, Chairo Christian School
If you are one who has read all the Tashi books – secretly to yourself before reading them to children – you may be very excited about the idea of a new book by Anna Fienberg, with brand new characters and a totally new concept. You may also be anticipating great things from the Anna Fienberg/Stephen Michael King partnership; after all, Fienberg has won multiple awards for children’s literature and King likewise has a list of awards for his work. You may be expecting a fantastic book. You will not be disappointed.
Figaro and Rumba and the Crocodile Café is a buddy story. The two friends, a dog named Figaro and a cat from Cuba named Rumba, catch the Very Fast Train to an exciting adventure, with plenty of drama along the way. As with all of Fienberg’s work, the strength of Figaro and Rumba lies in the creation of endearing characters, that children can love and with whom they can identify. Figaro is a hyperactive pup with a very big heart. Rumba is a cool cat, resourceful and loyal. The cast of other characters includes the lovable Rat, a clever physician named Doctor Numbat and an echidna called Mrs Foozy who rides a motorbike and is very willing to help people in need. And there’s a villain! Like all the best villains, he is suave, well-dressed and charming and very, very contemptible. Fortunately, his dastardly cat-napping scheme is foiled by our heroes.
For children just beginning to read chapter books, Figaro and Rumba and the Crocodile Café would be an instant favourite. And with just six chapters, it is an ideal classroom read-aloud book for lower and middle primary. This is one of the best books for the 7 to 9 age group that I have read since… well, Tashi!
Jo McDougall, Geelong, VIC
Anna Feinberg is the author of the Tashi series and Stephen Michael King who has created over 50 books like Mutt dog, Applesauce and the Christmas miracle and Patricia are the creators of this new book. A fun concept for a picture book a cross between a junior chapter book and a picture book, a larger format book which would stand out on the chapter book shelves, a good transit into chapter books for primary readers.
Figaro and Rumba are best friends. Figaro is a dog who never stays still and Rumba is a practicable cat, who can’t go outside till the house is cleaned. The story centres are them catching the very fast train that goes all the way to the beach. The story has many Australian characters and fabulous language for children. Children learn about other parts of the world as Rumba was born in Cuba and of course shares stories with Figaro.
I found the story interesting and the humour was great even for the parent who might be reading it to their children. Figaro is a great friend to have even if he is a little slow on some things. One of my favourite lines was when the doctor said to Figaro. You have a very large head and it’s heavy too, which Figaro replied “that’s because I have so many brains. And there’s no need to make personal remarks. Did I mention how many wrinkles you have?”
The cunning crocodile who befriends Rumba is the villain in the story and is wonderfully depicted with great illustrations. Not to give the end away but Figaro saves the day even if he is the accidental hero. The pictures are wonderful and capture the feelings of the characters as usual they are quirky and expressive.
Suitability for children Prep to Grade 3.
Felecia Phillips, Library Technician, Tasmanian eSchool, TAS
Figaro and Rumba and the Crocodile Café is a book that brings a smile to your face and delights children as they read it or listen to it. It tells of the adventure between two unlikely friends, a cat and dog, one messy the other clean, as they seek to rescue their friend, catch a fast train, try and escape the mischievous antics of a deceitful crocodile and deliver a happy and satisfying ending.
The combining of Anna Fienberg who has a massive following through her Tashi books with Stephen Michael King, an amazing illustrator (and author in his own right) is perfect. The text is engaging as the story is interesting. It is more than just one simple tale, offering a few minor adventures before the main one. There is humour, suspense, adventure and “sizzling salsa and haunting melodies” that inspire the imagination. The illustrations bring the book to life in a beautiful way without dominating. I love the way the pictures are placed among the text.
This is a chapter book that is accessible to lower primary readers yet some of the ideas and language can challenge them to extend themselves. I have also had a high school student who enjoyed reading it she wanted to read it to her class. My own boys, who are in infants, loved this book and at the end of each chapter wanted me to keep reading to them.
At a minimum, this book should be in every school library. Every primary teacher should have a copy in their class room for their students to come back to again and again. If you are also a parent, buy this book for your child. I loved it!
Dianne Bond, Shoalhaven Anglican School, NSW
One expects this winning combination of Anna Fienberg and Stephen Michael King to produce something spectacular. The enticing bright cover illustration and a groovy title are a fine starting point. Inside we find six chapters for the younger reader – from ‘The Plan’ to ‘Mrs Foozy and the Motorbike’ to the final chapter ‘Crocodile Café’. By the time I reached the end of this book I was excited. Finally everything was coming together.
The main characters are developed enough for a chapter book for young readers. Figaro the dog who loves to run like the wind; Rumba the cat who sings, writes songs and dances. And of course a villain! The crocodile who almost gets his prey but is outwitted at the end by our hero.
Ruth Jones, Alice Springs
The bright coral cover with its quirky illustrations of the two leading characters quickly catch your attention. They look full of life and fun - as indeed they are. Figaro and Rumba are a dog and a cat like no other. Rumba is a cat from Cuba and Figaro is a dog, always on the lookout for adventure. Author Anna Fienberg was inspired by her own dog, Figaro, an English setter.
The story begins with Figaro and his desire to go on the Very Fast Train. Rumba is happy to go along with him, but there are diversions along the way. We meet Rat and Nate, Doctor Numbat and Mrs Foozy. Crazy things just seem to happen to this pair, and Figaro is always the leader with Rumba trying to keep him on track. However, she has a past in Cuba which she pines for and there are a few moments of sadness for her as she tells of her family who were catnapped.
Eventually they do get on the train, and there they meet a crocodile. The phrase "never smile at a crocodile" comes to mind as Figaro doesn't trust their new acquaintance from the start, with his smile and his sugary and sweet voice. Figaro is proved right and when they get to the crocodile's cafe, he is the one to go off and discover the cats from Cuba who are imprisoned there and of course he is able to save the day.
This is a chapter book with 6 chapters, which would be great for young confident readers, or as a read aloud book. There are vibrant, colourful pictures on every page and illustrator Stephen Michael King has done a great job of bringing Figaro and Rumba to life. The publishers have done a great job of producing a beautiful quality book. Overall, it is very original, inventive and funny. The pictures do carry the story along and I think it would have great appeal for 6-8 year olds.
Jacqui Simpson, Te Horo School , Kapiti, NZ