Toppsta - Childrens Books – Reviews

Reader Q&A with Dermot O'Leary


Toto the Ninja Cat is a brilliant series for ages 7+, written by much-loved broadcaster Dermot O'Leary and illustrated by reader-favourite Nick East. 

Toppsta reader and Toto fan, Xander aged 9, had the chance to ask Dermot some questions about his writing, his inspiration and... whether Simon Cowell's little boy likes his books!

Toto's adventures fighting crime with her brother Silver are gripping as well as laugh-out-loud funny and Nick East's black-and-white illustrations really bring the stories to life.

Read on to find out more.

Reader Q&A with Dermot O'Leary
Reviewer Xander aged 9, with his sister

1. What was your favourite book growing up?

I loved reading as a child and remember the page-turning joy from Roald Dahl books. Fantastic Mr Fox was always my favourite. Mr Fox is so charming, funny, smart, a proper hero always outwitting farmers Boggis, Bunce and Bean!

2. I do Taekwondo with my Daddy, Toto is a Ninja. Have you done any martial arts?

Well done to you and your Daddy! Great exercise. I’d love to be able to do some of Toto ninja moves but I’m definitely not as agile as she is.

3. Why did you decide to write Toto with bad eyesight, It is good that Silver looks after her.

Well, do you know the Toto the Ninja Cat books are based on a true story? 

Toto is my actual cat and she really is blind. We rescued Toto and Silver as kittens and we worked out quite quickly that Toto couldn’t really see that well but she had lightning fast reactions; if you were playing around she could just lash out with her claws, super swift.  I thought this would make lovely idea for a book: that there’s this cat who is a lovely, mild-mannered kitten during the day ­ – and then a Ninja by night! Toto is the more sensible one, and Silver’s more relaxed because his sister’s a Ninja, after all but he’ll be her ‘eyes’ if she needs him to be.

4. Does Toto like Pizza because she trained to be a Ninja in Italy, she must do?

Of course she does! Pizza’s number one ingredient is CHEESE and Toto and Silver LOVE cheese. In fact, in the second book, Toto the Ninja Cat and the Incredible Cheese Heist they have to rescue all the cheese in the world after it's stolen by Toto’s arch enemy.

5. Do you think that anyone can write a book?  I am not sure I would have the patience.

Yes, I think anyone can write a book and I know you could! You just need some really good ideas which children are the best at having. You do have to be disciplined about sitting down and actually writing. Why not start off with a short story? Or a poem? Maybe about your pet if you have one. I bet you could do that.

6. Do you prefer being on TV or writing books? I would prefer to be on TV

Oh, that’s a tricky one. I love being on live TV and presenting on radio. There’s a real buzz. I’ve always written, ever since I was little, and then I’ve written my own scripts since I became a presenter but being a published children’s author is a relatively recent thing for me. I love it and I especially love getting to meet the readers of the Toto the Ninja Cat books and chatting to them.

7. My favourite movie is Captain America, what is your favourite movie?

I love watching movies and TV shows. I don’t think I could pick an absolute favourite but if you made me I’d probably say Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom. I'm a massive Steven Spielberg fan and he does great family films. That one is such a rollercoaster.

8. My sister is called Violet and I would like to solve crimes with her just like Toto and Silver do, Do you have any brothers or sisters to solve crimes with?

I have a big sister called Nicola and she is great. I don’t know if she’d want to solve crimes with me like Toto and Silver do though!

9. I support Manchester United.  Which team do Toto and Silver support?

Toto and Silver have adopted North London as their home – just like me – so they are most definitely Arsenal supporters!

10. Has Simon Cowell read your books to his little boy and does he like them?

Simon’s son is such a great kid and I gave him a copy of my first book, Toto the Ninja Cat and the Great Snake Escape. He enjoyed it I think – well his dad said he did!

Reader Q&A with Dermot O'Leary
Book pages Placeholder Book

Toto the Ninja Cat and the Mystery Jewel Thief: Book 4

Toto is no ordinary cat, and she can't wait for you to join her on her FOURTH ninja adventure! From one of the UK's best-loved broadcasters, purrfect for fans of The Aristocats, The Secret Life of Pets and Atticus Claw Breaks the Law.

Toto and her friends are due to be looking after the French ambassador on a day of sightseeing, finishing at the Tower of London to see the animal world's crown jewels: a sacred diamond cat collar.

But when they arrive, the collar has disappeared - and what's worse, it looks like Toto's boss Larry is responsible, with Toto as his accomplice! Toto is almost arrested, but she escapes to try and get to the bottom of the mystery and clear her name.

She and her friends will have to follow some strange clues that will take them to a secret bookshop, Buckingham Palace and the rats' underground city in the sewers... Can they defeat an unexpected villain and bring the thief to justice?

Ideal for reading aloud or for children to curl up with and read alone, the story features brilliant black and white illustrations throughout. With gentle themes of friendship, inclusivity and winning in the face of adversity, this is a hilarious must-read for all animal-loving kids!

Dermot says: ' The idea for Toto first came to me when my wife and I rescued two stray cats from an olive grove in Italy. One of them, Toto, has been blind from birth, but we quickly realised she had ninja-like reactions. Like a lot of cat owners (or cat servants), we like to imagine our pets having secret lives when we're out or asleep. So before I knew it I was writing about Toto and her brother Silver's nocturnal adventures around London. I really hope that children who pick it up enjoy reading the adventures of our little Italian underdog (cat).'

Have you read Toto's other adventures: The Great Snake Escape , The Incredible Cheese Heist and The Superstar Catastrophe ?


8th October 2020

Share this read with others...

Tweet Email