Prudence wants a pet. Desperately.
“No,” says Dad, “pets cost too much to keep.”
“No,” says Mom, “pets make noise.”
But Prudence is determined. She finds her own pet. It is a…branch. But Branch isn't exactly the pet of her dreams, and neither are Twig, Mr. Round (a car tire), or her baby brother Milo.
Poor Prudence. Will she ever find the perfect pet?
Amazon Exclusive: A Note from Author Cathleen Daly
I had a constant influx and outflow of pets in my life as a kid. I had the usual short-lived carnival goldfish, the token hamster or two, some small worried looking white mice. But mostly, there were cats (no wonder the mice looked worried). My first memories are of cats. Cats curled by my neck, my side, on my belly, pouncing on my ballet bun (my hair in a topknot was very similar in size and texture to a mouse). Cats weaving through my ankles, curled in my trumpet case, sprawling across my homework giving themselves a long bath. When we didn't seek out cats they would seemingly seek us out.
Our first cat was Andrew---a big, white, long-haired, rubbery-limbed kitty, who was so relaxed you could pick him up and cart him around the neighborhood or, if the mood struck you, dress him up in doll clothes. He fell in love with the lady cat next door and started spending all his time with her. When the neighbors moved we gave Andrew to them because we felt it would be cruel to separate such a devoted couple. We grieved but only for a moment because within a week we found a pair of almost newborn stray kittens in the wastebasket in our garage. The boy kitty had ABC (already-been-chewed) gum stuck to his fur. We carefully removed the gum with tiny manicure scissors and promptly named him Blackie and his spotty sister, Callie. I could happily tell you all kinds of intricate details about Callie and Blackie and Every Cat We Ever Owned (at one point we had ten, granted, nine of them were kittens), but I won't. I will mention that when you have ten cats, nine of whom are kittens, they sort of “flock”. The ten of them, at times, moved as one entity, like a roly-poly, frolicking, fuzzy herd. I will also mention that the cat I had the longest and strongest bond with was named Jessica aka Jessie. A boy in my third-grade class brought kittens to school one day and the moment I saw her I knew she was mine and brought her home without asking my mother. It was the boy who suggested I name her Jessica; "That's my ex-girlfriend's name," he said. Initially the question may appear to be: Wasn't it awfully audacious of me to bring home a new kitten without permission? But I believe the deeper and perhaps more compelling question here would be---what was a third grader doing with an ex-girlfriend?
Most of my adult life I've lived in places where pets weren't allowed, so sadly I haven't had a pet to call my own. So I write about them. Pet-sit them. And seem to still, somehow, attract cats. Though solely as visitors nowadays. Every apartment or cottage I’ve lived in seems to come with the requisite curious neighborhood cat,who, on warm days will wander into my place, wind through my legs while I work at the computer. Meow. Sniff. And in some cases, if I’m lucky, let me pick them up and give 'em a scritch.
For instance, in my current place a sleek, talkative kitty named Lenny frequently comes to visit. I like to imagine he’s named after Lenny Bruce because he’s so outspoken. He’s just growing out of adolescence and is frisky, curious, very soft, and occasionally, a wee bit smelly (that’s adolescence for you). Now, as much as I enjoy borrowing neighborhood cats (Lenny's grooming habits are improving all the time) I am determined (not unlike Prudence, the protagonist in my book) to have my very own pet someday. In some ways Prudence Wants a Pet is a wish-fulfillment story (it may as well be called Cathleen Wants A Pet). But it's also a story about tenacity and not giving up on dreams. And I dream of kittens (yes, more than one, but definitely not ten) curled up on the small blue blanket at the foot of my bed.