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The Best Cat in the World Paperback – January 26, 2006
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From School Library Journal
Grade 1-4--In this worthy companion to Judith Viorst's The Tenth Good Thing about Barney(Atheneum, 1971), a young child grieves for his pet. For days after Charlie's death, Victor can't eat or talk about him without crying. He is comforted by gestures from his class, his mom cooking his favorite meal, and a memorial rosebush that he plants over his cat's grave. When a sympathetic vet introduces him to a tortoiseshell kitten that needs a home, he finally cheers up. However, Shelley is not Charlie and chooses to sleep on the windowsill rather than with Victor and to ignore the tidbits he drops on the floor at dinner. As the two become better acquainted, the youngster begins to notice special things Shelley does that his old pet did not. The story comes full circle when Victor gazes out of the window and asks the kitten the same question he used to ask Charlie, "Who's the best cat in the world?" Himler's warm pencil-and-watercolor illustrations generously fill the pages. They portray the casually clad characters with tenderness and contrast the shape of the old and sick animal with that of the young and playful one. For a feline who visits the vet and gets well, see Lynne Rae Perkins's charming The Broken Cat (Greenwillow, 2002), but for comfort and catharsis, Newman's fine story is the cat's pajamas.--Susan Hepler, Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Digital edition.
PreS-Gr. 2. There are many books about the death of a pet, but Newman offers a much needed one about integrating a new animal into the home, a sensitive situation that she handles with tenderness and humor. Victor always told his cat Charlie that he was "the best cat in the world," and when Charlie dies, Victor doesn't want another pet. But when the vet calls and says she has a kitten that needs a home, Victor tells his mother he'll give the tortoiseshell-colored Shelley a chance. At first Victor is upset that Shelley is so different from Charlie. Yet, as the days pass, Victor becomes intrigued by Shelley's kittenish ways and realizes that more than one cat can be the best in the world. Himler's full-page watercolor paintings usually focus on the humans in the story, but there are several images of Shelley that show her endearing ways. Putting the people front and center rather than the animal helps make the book also of use to families learning to love animals other than cats. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Digital edition.
Top customer reviews
Instead of focusing on the anguish of the child experiencing loss, I think these books need to be more about the animal's experience. For this, I can't recommend any book more than "The Day Tiger Rose Said Goodbye." It deals with the idea of death with far more grace, and has an ending that even I, as an atheist, can find comfort in.
If you're looking for a dog book, go for "Saying Goodbye to Lulu." While that one is also more about the kid, the death of the dog is less traumatic and seems more natural.
Charlie was a special cat for Victor, with set mannerisms and patterns Victor was used to. After Charlie died, the family buried him in the back yard, and Victor was nearly inconsolable. However, Victor's mother and the vet brought Victor together with another cat, Shelley, who had been dropped off at the office. At first Victor is very resistant, comparing Shelley to Charlie in somewhat unfavourable ways. `Charlie never did that,' Victor would think, as Shelley would do (or not do) as Charlie had done. However, felines have the kind of magic that works on a willing soul, and Victor comes to love the individuality in Shelley, without diminishing his love for his lost companion, Charlie. Shelley becomes heir to the title `Best Cat in the World', and rumbles purring in response in the same fashion as Charlie did.
The text is simple, sweet and very readable by children. The author Leslea Newman has penned several children's books, some with cats and some without. Ronald Himler, the illustrator, has provided his wonderful graphic pen for some seventy-five books; the drawings are charming and engaging, and enhance the story with a softness watercolours provide and detail that pencil can add.
This is a wonderful gift for children, particularly those who need to learn to deal with the kind of separation that a pet's death brings home. It does not make light of its subject, but does not dwell on the tragic, nor does it dishonour the cat who is gone by simple replacement. A wonderful book!
When the vet calls to ask if Victor would provide a home for Shelley, a brand-new tortoiseshell kitten, he is hesitant. Perhaps he won't like the kitten, or the kitten won't like him.
Victor brings home the multi-colored bundle of fur, and gradually adjusts to her ways, which often differ from Charlie's. She does not like to be scratched between the ears while she eats, as Charlie did. She prefers the windowsill to the special pillow on Victor's bed where Charlie used to sleep.
Soon, however, Victor begins to delight in Shelley's unique behaviors-how she plays with the water while he brushes his teeth and how she chases her own tail.
Himler's pencil-and-watercolors capture Victor's full range of emotion-concern and worry, grief, amusement, and joy--in this book that demonstrates how the human heart can have many rooms.