Arts & Entertainment

A swashbuckling good tale

By Rita Thiel

Amid the tangled mire of Ocracoke’s mysteries is the perplexing question of when did the first “Ocracat” arrive on Ocracoke?

Ocracats are the “wild,” or feral, cats that roam the island. No one is sure when the first cat became an island resident and several theories exist.  

A plausible though fictional account of how this could have occurred is found in Pat Garber’s new book, Little Matey, (2018), a story that will entertain those young or young-at-heart.

Set on Blackbeard’s ship, “Adventure,” Little Matey tells the tale of a little black kitten who, given her position as ratter on the iconic pirate ship, finds herself in a heap of trouble as the final battle of Blackbeard’s life draws near.

Leading up to the perilous skirmish, Garber describes life on a pirate ship with Little Matey, whiffing the stale stench of the crewman, hearing the thunderous boom of the cannons and even developing a fondness for the sometimes gentle and heartwarming Blackbeard.

Little Matey has no feline pals until she spies another cat whose ship has also docked at Ocracoke to partake in the raucous pirate parties.

A grey tabby, Grog longs for a life on land and plans his eventual escape to Ocracoke. In becoming a “landlubbing” cat, he tries to no avail to persuade Little Matey to join him.

Loyalty to the pirate and her duties on ship keep the little black ratter’s paws firmly on board. Action moves smoothly as Garber’s words flow effortlessly and the anticipated conclusion begins.

Excitement, tinged with a bit of sadness, follows Little Matey as she finds herself cast ashore, destined to become the first Ocracat momma, joined by Grog, the first Ocracat daddy. 

Garber’s plentiful illustrations embellish the story with details that reveal themselves the longer you look at them. They are a delightful and whimsical addition to the text.

Garber donates a portion of her profits from Little Matey to OcraCats Inc. and other Outer Banks cat rescue organizations.

Little Matey can be found at Books to be Red, the Variety Store, OPS and online at Amazon.

Pat Garber resides on Ocracoke and in the Adirondacks. She has published numerous books about Ocracoke including “Ocracoke Odyssey,” “Ocracoke Wild,” “Little Sea Horse and the Story of the Ocracoke Ponies” and “Paws and Tales.