From School Library Journal
K-Gr 2–Before there was Dewey Readmore Books, there was Nini, also a humble stray, practicing random acts of kindness in 19th-century Venice. In this fictionalized account of an actual feline, Nini is a white tom who frequents a small caffè on the Piazza San Marco. One day composer Giuseppe Verdi stops by for a coffee and inspiration, which Nini provides with a simple meow–the perfect note that eventually finds its way into the composer's latest opera. News of Verdi's patronage at the caffè, as well as the cat that inspired him, spreads, and soon commoners and nobility alike come for coffee and a visit with the famous Nini. He settles a royal dispute, shares blessings with the Pope, and helps the Princess of Ethiopia find her voice again after tragedy silences her. At the heart of Nini's appeal and talent is the fact that he is simply a charming stray. Nethery has a lot of fun with Nini's story, creating characters openhearted enough to be touched by a purr or a nudge against the shins; she provides an analysis of the fact versus her fiction in the author's note. Manders's gouache and colored-pencil artwork shows Venice to be a lovely, if somewhat sanitized place, where a fine feline can survive on the kindness of strangers who ask nothing in return but the sharing of his natural charms.Kara Schaff Dean, Walpole Public Library, MA
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"Nethery has a lot of fun with Nini's story, creating characters openhearted enough to be touched by a purr or a nudge against the shins."--School Library Journal