Author blog: Matilda Woods on The Girl, the Cat and the Navigator (in Numbers)

We are delighted to host a guest post by Matilda Woods, author of The Girl, The Cat and the Navigator (see our review here).

In this blog post, Matilda uses numbers to help explain a bit about her new book and how the story came about.

The Girl, the Cat and the Navigator in Numbers

For this post, I’m going to detail my latest book – The Girl, The Cat and The Navigator – in numbers instead of words. I hope you enjoy reading some facts about the book and how it came to be created.

46, 237 words in the book. This is at the low end for middle grade books but it’s a lot higher than the first draft. Originally the story had 33,000 words and some titles I was considering were: ‘Oona and the Starship’; ‘The Girl Who Sailed North’; and, ‘The Girl Who Sailed Through the Sky’.

84 scenes in the book. This averages out at 550 words per scene. This is the equivalent of 2 printed pages in a book. I like to keep my scenes short. I feel like it keeps things moving forward and forces me to include only the vital elements in each scene.

31 chapters in the book. This averages out at about 7 printed pages. Again, I like to keep the chapters short to keep the story moving forward. 31 is also the address of the main character, Oona Britt, who lives at 31 Whalebone Lane.

7 is the number of daughters that Captain Britt has. Oona, the main character, is the captain’s 7th daughter. As a man who’d always dreamt of having a son, the captain is not happy about that.

5 is the number of drafts I wrote before I sent the story to Scholastic. The story changed a lot during this time. While the main story arc remained the same, I added a lot of new characters, subplots and scenes. I always find the 1st draft hardest to write. The 2nd draft is also quite hard because you have to “kill your darlings.” Once I get to the 3rd draft things start to settle down and I feel confident that the story is coming together.

4 is the number of developmental edits I did with Scholastic. The first 2 edits are usually the hardest because you’re being asked to “kill” even more darlings. 4 is also the number of cats I dedicated this book to (Sally, Alice, Gandolf and Boots).

2 is the number of line edits I did with Scholastic. I love doing line edits because you just follow the rules to make sure your sentences are as polished as possible. At this stage, all the hard work for me as the writer is done, and now it’s up to the team at Scholastic to do the rest.

1 is the number of illustrators who worked on this book. Anuska Allepuz illustrated this book and also my first book, The Boy, the Bird and the Coffin Maker. She is a fantastic Spanish illustrator whose illustrations are scattered throughout every page of this book. Check out her website to see some of her work:

THE GIRL, THE CAT & THE NAVIGATOR by Matilda Woods out now in paperback (£6.99, Scholastic)

Follow @MatildaWrites and @ScholasticUk on twitter and visit to find out more at


You can read our review of The Girl, The Cat and the Navigator here.

The Girl, The Cat and the Navigator is available to order online or from your local bookshop or library.

Many thanks to Matilda for sharing this guest blog post with us and publicist Laura at Scholastic for inviting us to be involved.

If you are interested in writing a guest blog post please get in touch here or click here to find out more.


Recent Posts

See All

Join our newsletter to find out about our brand new booklists, reviews and updates on new children's books.

Click here to sign up.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram Social Icon

Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, BooksForTopics earns from qualifying purchases.  Click here to learn more.