Yes, I know what you are all thinking. I audiobooked this?! What about the illustrations by Quentin Blake? I thought you said you wanted to read this. And I did - I still do - but when I was asked if I wanted to audiobook this, I jumped at it for several reasons. One of them was Helen Mirren - I love her voice. Another was curiosity. How could this be under an hour? Surely the story would be 15/20 minutes, max? And what would it be like to listen to an Beatrix Potter instead of reading it?
But Quentin Blake's illustrations did play a factor. From what I have seen of his illustrations linked to this book, I was very put off. They didn't feel right with Beatrix Potter. With Roald Dalh, yes. Completely. But not with a Beatrix Potter. The illustrations used in her other books felt more in keeping, but these felt very out of place and out of time. You could tell these were modern drawings and they didn't fit, in my opinion, with the time when the story was written and set.
But enough about that. Let's talk Kitty-In-Boots.
The Tale of Kitty-In-Boots follows a black cat who leads a leads a double life. By day, she stays home with her owner. But at night, she goes out with her boots and her gun and goes hunting. But this tale follows her one night when she gets into all sorts of scrapes, meet some old friends and comes up against the fox hunter known as Mr Tod...
OK... I am going to say that I have listened to this story a few things (it's around 17 minutes long so a good cycle ride to work in the morning for me), and I can't figure out how I feel about it.
It's a good little story. And you can tell it's a Beatrix Potter.
But - yes, there's that word I always like using while writing blog posts - it feels off. It feels like a Beatrix Potter and doesn't at the same time. It feels unpolished and, from what I have researched, Beatrix started this and have every intention to finish but this was interrupted by World War One and personal events happened (marriage and health).
So, in some ways, this feels like a first or second draft, and we have no idea if she ever showed this to her publishers and their reactions. It's not polished to the usual Beatrix Potter standard.
Another small issue is the audiobook. Now, I have nothing bad to say about Helen Mirren and her reading (maybe a tad too dramatic at times, but why not? She's Helen flipping Mirren)! But it's a little odd to listen to Helen Mirren, the story ends and we have Anna Friel (another wonderful actor) reading the other four stories in this audiobook (The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck, The Tale of Squirrel Nutkins, The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Wingle and The Tale of Jeremy Fisher). I get that Anna has read them a few years ago and putting the stories together make something special, but it's just odd and jarring to have two narrators.
This is a weird one. I think this will fit perfectly within the Beatrix Potter brand, but it's just feels a little off somehow.