By: Terry Roberts
Publication Date: May 18, 2023
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: July 13, 2023
Two adorable cats take a time-traveling adventure that they will never forget in author Terry Roberts’ debut book, The Adventures of Cleo & Leo.
Cleo was a beautiful cat who was enjoying a life of leisure. She lived in a lovely house, got the best cat food, and had lots and lots of toys. Everything a cat could want or need was at her disposal. Life was good...until an annoying kitten named Leo arrived. Cleo’s once peaceful routine was disrupted – she had to share her dining room space, her toys, and her naps were constantly interrupted by the new kitty. Did I mention that Leo was annoying?
Cleo was not happy with her new companion, and when Leo discovered a basket full of yarn, Cleo couldn't do anything but be irritated. But honestly, she was also a little curious, so she jumped into the basket along with Leo. But then something magical happened...one ball of brightly colored yarn flew out of the basket and started to sparkle. “The magical yarn twisted and twirled, taking Cleo and Leo with it!” They were transported down a long, dark tunnel, but where were they going?
After what seemed like a very long time, Cleo and Leo emerged from the tunnel – but where were they? Off in the distance, the cats saw some strange houses that had points at the top (pyramids) and Leo suddenly knew where they were - ancient Egypt! How could that be? Cleo and Leo started to argue – “Look what you got us into!!!” Cleo exclaimed, completely exasperated by her young companion – but they soon realized they had to find a way home.
The cats started walking toward the pyramids, hoping to find someone who could help them get home. And that’s when they met Bastet, Goddess of all Cats. Thankfully, if you’re a cat and lost in ancient Egypt, the best God or Goddess to meet would probably be Bastet! The Goddess is kind and agrees to help the time-traveling cats get home. But first, she has to check on one of her ancestor’s tombs. Leo, timidly asks, “Y-y-y-y-you mean there are two dead people in here?” He is quite frightened while Cleo tries to comfort her friend, knowing there’s nothing to fear. The cats are about to learn some cool things about ancient Egypt, but will they be able to get home after their adventure?
Kudos to author Terry Roberts for introducing young readers to ancient Egypt by creating an adventure that takes two cute cats back in time. Cleo and Leo remind me of siblings who can’t get along...until something happens that requires they work together, and suddenly, they realize they love each other. The story offers some interesting facts about the ancient World, not just through the dialog, but with blocks of text on several pages that explain things such as pyramids, tombs, and pharaohs in easy-to-understand language. The trip into the tomb might upset very young readers – mummification is explained, in a very simple way, as is the fact that there are ”dead people in here” – but Cleo makes it clear there’s nothing to be worried about. And to balance the story, the author inserts some lighthearted pages, such as when the cats play games with Bastet and Ra, and even introduces the two gods to S’mores. It should also be mentioned that the author created the artwork for the story using Photoshop and Canva and the result is a collection of very cool images that bring the story to life. At the back of the book is a page of questions to consider, followed by two pages of facts about ancient Egypt. The Adventures of Cleo & Leo is a fun and informative book that will hopefully ignite an interest in ancient civilizations in many children, and perhaps some of them will one day be Egyptologists!
Quill says: By mixing a pair of adorable cats with a history lesson, sprinkled with just enough fantasy and magic to hold young readers' attention, author Terry Roberts has started a time-traveling cat series that is sure to spark interest in ancient Egypt. I can’t wait to see where the cats travel to next!