Flashback Fridays: A real space oddity . . .

You’re an ambitious young cat who has the chance to ride in a rocket and go into outer space!  Once there, you find out you’re pretty much a natural at this kind of thing. . .

Do you remember:


Space Cat by Ruthven Todd, illustrated by Paul Galdone (Peter Smith Publisher, c1952)

The thing about child hood favorites . . . they don’t have to be brilliantly literary to stick with and inspire their readers.  I’ve yet to discover Space Cat myself, but it’s clear that there are many individuals who love and  fondly remember their discovery of this series.  Flyball is a young cat with plenty of pluck and ambition, and a natural talent for surviving in space.  He likes his space suit and bounding about one the moon.  Flyball winds up rescuing his master and discovering things inside a moon cave.

Published in the 1950s when rockets and outer space travel had captured the imagination of the public, these are the kind of stories that gave kids a life-long love of science fiction adventures . . . and cats! There are four books altogether in the Space Cat serieseach one featuring the jaunty Flyball, his human Colonel Fred Stone and adventures in space!  After cruising to the moon, the pair take a trip to Venus, then a slightly jaded Flyball explores Mars and discovers something very unexpected!  Finally, in the last book Flyball and the Colonel travel to Alpha Centauri with Flyball’s wife and kittens.

The whole series is packed with lighthearted-adventure, enjoyable humor and some great cat characters.  It helps that Paul Galdone created the illustrations for this series!  Color me a bit surprised to discover how many of these sorts of series that Galdone helped to illustrated in his career!  And here I’d thought his work ran mainly to folklore and fairytales!

Space cat captures the fun and adventure of the science fiction genre–something that can be forgotten by the more dystopian style stories that pepper so much of the genre lately.  There’s still room for this lighter kind of story, methinks–serious science fiction may be impressive, but it’s not the only way to coax readers into being fans.   At under a hundred pages per book, these were perfect for readers just beginning chapter book exploration.  Sadly, while the original book was reprinted in 1991, all of the titles are now firmly out of print–and used copies for the original title are over a hundred dollars. I rather hope the Ruthven estate may decide to put these books up as digital copies at some point so that they may become more accessible to these later generations.

So any fans out there?  Ruthven’s probably one of the early writers of what has become quite the tradition of cats and space–what are some of your own favorite cat/space stories?

Comments welcome!


About Stephanie Whelan

I'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.

Posted on November 23, 2014, in Flashback Fridays, General Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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