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The Famous Nini: A Mostly True Story of How a Plain White Cat Became a Star Hardcover – June 7, 2010

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The Famous Nini: A Mostly True Story of How a Plain White Cat Became a Star + Gabriella's Song (Aladdin Picture Books) + This Is Venice
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Editorial Reviews

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
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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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

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Clarion Books (June 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618977694
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618977697
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.4 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,981,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Tanenbaum VINE VOICE on September 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover
There never seem to be as many fun picture books about cats as about dogs (or maybe that's just my bias?) so I was particularly delighted with this charming new picture book based loosely on actual historical events. Set in Venice in the 1890's, the book tells the story of a struggling cafe owner, Nonna Framboni, who takes in a stray white cat and names him Nini. There doesn't seem to be anything special about Nini, until renowned composer Verdi wanders into the cafe to work on his latest opera. Unable to come up with just the right note until Nini meows, Verdi is thrilled and begins to frequent the cafe. The enterprising owner puts up a sign, The Great Verdi Takes His Coffee Here, and soon customers begin to flock to the cafe to see the famous composer as well as the now-famous cat.

A progression of illustrious visitors come to visit Nini, including the king and queen of Italy, who declare National Nini Day, and even the Pope himself. But when the Emperor of Ethiopia brings his grief-stricken daughter to see the famous Nini, seeking a miracle, Nonna wonders if Nini will be able to deliver.

What a lovely story this is about the healing power of animals and the joy they bring to humans. Author Mary Nethery is really a master at this genre; she is also the author of Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship and Survival and Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine, and a Miracle, two other animal stories that will warm your heart. Illustrator John Manders, who has illustrated many children's titles including Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies by Carolyn Crimi, uses colorful gouache paintings to portray the gold-infused Venice setting, and a whimsical, cartoon-like style which adds humor to the story.

An author's note offers some historical details about the real Nini and his fans.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kirby Larson on July 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you love cappucinos, cannoli and/or cats, you will love this slice of Italian history. It's based on a true story of a white cat that inspired Verdi, blessed the Pope and worked miracles in the heart of a motherless young girl. The charming illustrations are a nice complement to the text and invite the reader to linger over each page. Another wonderful thing about this book is that it promotes the idea that the best gift we can give to another is our own true self.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Much loved by a very bright 5 yr old who is going to Italy for 2 months. Kids love animal stories and read along with Guido's Gondola have certainly created a lot of interest and anticipation
The Sasek books on Venice and Rome are great preparation for this trip
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