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Whittington Library Binding – July 26, 2005

4.2 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 4-6–This superior novel interweaves animal fantasy and family story with a retelling of the English folktale Dick Whittington and His Cat. A battered tomcat named Whittington arrives one late-fall day at a New England barn, where he gradually befriends the equally ragtag group of animals already adopted by the barn's taciturn but soft-hearted owner, Bernie. When the year's first big snowstorm traps the bored animals in the barn, Whittington begins telling the story of his namesake, Dick Whittington, to an audience that grows to include Bernie's parentless grandchildren. The feline continues the story as winter grinds on, and the children and animals together absorb Dick's tale of good fortune, which he earned through trust in the advice of his dear friend, a remarkable cat, and his own hard work and struggles. The tale parallels that of Ben, Bernie's grandson, who learns to read once he trusts the advice of his friends and takes extra classes to help him overcome his dyslexia. Graceful prose, engaging human and animal characters, and a deft interweaving of three story lines make this book worthy of comparison to the work of Dick King-Smith and E. B. White. Teachers and librarians looking for a classroom choice to follow Kate DiCamillo's The Tale of Despereaux (Candlewick, 2003) take note: Whittington reads aloud beautifully, and the extended happy ending will leave everyone smiling in delight.–Beth Wright, Fletcher Free Library, Burlington, VT
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 5-8. "So what do you want, Mr. Whittington?" "A place to live," the cat replies to Lady, the take-charge duck asking the questions, as Whittington attempts to sell his skills as a ratter and all-around useful fellow. Once he does and becomes part of the community of outcast animals who look after one another in softhearted Bernie's old barn, readers will settle in with him for a tale of charming animal bravura. Whittington entertains the group daily with the tale of his ancestor, Dick Whittington's cat, and relates the story of Whittington's fourteenth-century escapades as a rags-to-riches British merchant and far-traveling adventurer. The story works beautifully, both as historical fiction about medieval street life and commerce and as a witty, engaging tale of barnyard camaraderie and survival. A third strand, about Bernie's grandchildren, particularly Ben and his troubles and eventual success with learning to read, seems forced and didactic in what is otherwise a very strong story. Final illustrations not available. Anne O'Malley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Library Binding: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (July 26, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375928642
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375928642
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,408,961 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on January 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover
"Whittington" exemplifies everything I love about the Newbery Awards. Every year the winners of the Newbery are announced during the American Library Association Mid-Winter Meeting. Sometimes the Award winner is undeserving. Sometimes the Honor Winners are exemplary. And sometimes there is one book that is so completely random and out of the blue that it baffles everyone who hears its name. This year, "Whittington" was that book (though "Show Way" probably got a few gasps for the category in which it won). It sort of came out of left field and while a perfectly nice book and a good tale of one boy's battle with dyslexia, I'm disinclined to say it was one of the best books of the year. A perfectly harmless barnyard tale. Just don't get overly excited about it.

All right my children, who here amongst you can tell me the tale of Dick Whittington? Anyone? Anybody? Well that's not surprising. Ole Dick just doesn't get the attention he once did. Even Fairy Tale Theater never got around to filming the Whittington fable. In this book, however, Dick is introduced to a whole new generation of children via the voice and stylings of a singular cat. On a rural farm, a worse-for-the-wear tom makes the acquaintance of a barnyard full of animals. A good ratter as ever there was, the cat has named himself Whittington. When questioned about his name he explains that he is a direct descendant of Dick Whittington's cat, and has given himself a moniker appropriately. Now on this farm are two children, Abby and Ben. Abby does well enough in school but Ben struggles with words and numbers. It is clear that he has a reading impediment and a temper to boot.
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Format: Hardcover
Whittington by Alan Armstrong exemplifies everything that's wrong with the Newbery awards - it's a cute book about a cat, not much more. Don't get me wrong, I did like the story, but there's as much wrong with the story as there is right. It does, however, have all the ingredients of an award winner and stuff much older readers than the intended audience can get nostalgic over.

Whittington is the story of a cat who comes to live in a barnyard full of down-and-out animals with Ben and Abby, a brother and sister who spend their time listening to a tale told by the cat. Ben suffers from dyslexia, which is embarrassing to him. Ben's struggles with dyslexia are mixed with Whittington's story. This is an interesting approach.

However, there are several things wrong with the story. First, the story often reads more like a history and science lesson, with some of the exposition delivered as if from a text book. Second, it's hard to care about the characters as they are shallow and for the most part one dimensional. At times, Ben's struggles seem a footnote or after thought to make the book itself more interesting. As a father of a child with dyslexia, I know it is a serious problem, but it has become an overused plot device in many children's books.

Overall, this one's okay, but I think comparisions to E.B. White are out of line. This is not E.B. White or anything close.
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Format: Hardcover
This Newbery honor book is the story of families of origin and families of creation. It is also a tale depicting the power of love and of story. Framed within the present in which Ben and Abby, brother and sister, spend time in their grandfather's barn listening to a tale told by the barn cat, Whittington, who is a descendant of the fabled Dick Whittington's cat. The novel "Whittington" moves between a re-telling of the medieval Whittington tale to two present day tales in which Ben is struggling to read and the animals are struggling for primacy in the barn.

"Whittington" offers adventures and excitement in the tales of Dick's travel as a peddler, as well as in the battle of the animals in the barn. The story also offers emotional insights and pathos in the tale of Ben working through his problem with dyslexia and the recovery of Lady, the duck who is head of the animals in the barn, after an attack.

This would be an enjoyable family or classroom read-aloud for 4th and 5th graders, as well as a rewarding book for kids who like animal tales and/or fables.
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Format: Hardcover
Whittington, a Newbery Honor book, is the story of a cat who comes to live in a barnyard of down-and-out animals given a home by Bernie who with his wife cares for Abby and Ben, his orphaned grandchildren. The cat Whittington is the namesake of Dick Whittington, a London merchant and advocate for the poor during the mid 1300's. As Whittington tells the barnyard menagerie of his ancestor who was the companion of Dick Whittington we also find that Ben is struggling from the embarrassment and problems of dyslexia. Ben's struggles are interwoven with Whittington's storytelling. While this is a good story which imparts history and science through the words of the animals, the transition from real time to storytelling does not always flow well. The accounts of the merchant trade slows the story down at times and seems rather textbook-like. Until the very end, the characters lack the three-dimensionality that allows the reader to empathize with them. An enjoyable read nontheless.
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