Boris

Overview

Boris is a big gray cat who loves sleeping and playing and exploring and hunting. And his owner loves him for all of his simple cat ways.

But Boris, typical as he may be, is part of a much larger story in this moving exploration of love, longing, compassion, and most of all, the continuous give-and-take of companionship.

Newbery medalist Cynthia Rylant's powerful collection of poems is sure to find its place in the hearts of readers of all ...

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Overview

Boris is a big gray cat who loves sleeping and playing and exploring and hunting. And his owner loves him for all of his simple cat ways.

But Boris, typical as he may be, is part of a much larger story in this moving exploration of love, longing, compassion, and most of all, the continuous give-and-take of companionship.

Newbery medalist Cynthia Rylant's powerful collection of poems is sure to find its place in the hearts of readers of all ages, especially those who have been lucky enough to experience the many joys and hardships that come with true friendship.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Makes a great introduction for readers not comfortable with poetry. The poems tell an accessible, compelling story . . . Warm and tender."—The Horn Book
 
"It's a grand experience, this set of poems, this rumination on the cat and the human condition. Everyone with a pet (and without) will read and remember this title, and come back to it."—School Library Journal
Publishers Weekly
The narrator of Rylant's (Missing May) fragmented poem addresses her beloved cat, Boris, adopted from a humane shelter, along with his sister. The frequently choppy free verse compiles anecdotes about Boris's experiences and personality, intermittently drawing parallels between the narrator's life and that of her pet. She observes that humans, like cats, enjoy the outdoors in summer as long as the weather is fair and, in a somewhat somber passage, laments that humans are born alone rather than in litters: "I have lived/ a good while, Boris,/ and I have never/ gotten used to/ being alone./ But you, Boris,/ you have always/ had your sister/ and this is why/ you don't go looking/ for new friends,/ as I do,/ or haunt the coffee shops,/ as I have,/ or worry that/ no one likes you." The owner's tone turns acerbic as she recounts an episode in which a neighbor complains that Boris came through the pet flap into her home, where he sprayed her couch and scratched her cat. After likening the woman to girls she knew in college who "were going to sure see to it/ that you didn't have/ too much fun, missy," the narrator at first apologizes and "then I came to my senses./ Accountant's wife: Screw you./ I know your kind./ I'm keeping my cat,/ so just plug up your hole./ And while you're at it,/ cover that/ stupid pet flap." These meditations may be too personal and introspective for most readers, even those with a special fondness for felines. Ages 14-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-This is a memoir told in 19 poignant vignettes. The free-verse poems, with marvelous use of space and line endings to create pacing and suspense, celebrate Boris the cat in Rylant's signature, dry-but-endearing style. None are exuberant, yet readers will certainly enjoy the recognition of feline (and human owner/friend) behavior. The language is delicate and precise. The vocabulary is not erudite or fancy, but it is mighty expressive. The selections encompass companionship, bewilderment, tenderness, apprehension, wry laughter, and all those emotions pet owners (and friends and parents) experience. It's a grand experience, this set of poems, this rumination on the cat and the human condition. Everyone with a pet (and without) will read and remember this title, and come back to it.-Cris Riedel, Ellis B. Hyde Elementary School, Dansville, NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
With characteristic sensitivity, Rylant addresses one of her cats in a set of conversational free-verse poems-recalling the day she brought him and his sister home from the humane shelter, warning him about predatory eagles, congratulating him on bonding rather than battling with a new neighbor's cat and on surviving a solitary jaunt into the surrounding woods. She uses these and other incidents to reflect on parallels in her own life: "we are like you, Boris. / We are outside cats / and proud of it / until the first big drop / of rain hits out noses. . . . " Though subtler and more understated than Dave Crawley's Cat Poems, (see above) neither the language nor the insights here should present challenges for readers, even younger or less practiced ones. (Poetry. 8-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780152058098
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 11/1/2006
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 82
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

CYNTHIA RYLANT is the acclaimed author of more than a hundred books for young people, including the new poetry volume Ludie's Life; the beloved Mr. Putter & Tabby series; the Henry and Mudge series; and the novel Missing May, which received the Newbery Medal. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

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Read an Excerpt

They were smart to put a storefront humane shelter on the street I walked.
I was new in town.
Everybody else was used to those cats in cages in the windows.
They kept on walking,
trained not to glance over,
lest they lie awake at night thinking about that long-haired tabby waiting waiting waiting.
But I hadn't been trained.
I tried not to look.
I have never been able to go to a humane shelter.
But now they had brought one to me.

I'd buried my last cat two years before.
I had only dogs now.
Dogs that didn't get into howling, spitting fights in the middle of the night.
Dogs that didn't spray or leave chunks of frothy hair ball on the carpet exactly where I
place my feet in the morning.
I had buried my last cat.
I was a dog person now.
But they'd put a storefront humane shelter on the street I walked every day.
And I was new in town.
I lasted two months.
Then I went inside,
swearing I'd get only one,
and only a girl,
and no more.
Working hard to keep my heart together.
Cages, cages, eyes.
They can't be too sad.
Cats sleep 80 percent of the time.
They are all right,
could be worse.
Don't look at that dog over there.
The one storefront dog in the cage.
You will break apart.
Not made for shelters.
Ashamed of it.
But not made for shelters.
At first I thought,
I'll choose this one,
this nervous one.
I'll choose this one,
this old battered one.
I'll choose this one,
this bright one.
Cages, cages, eyes.
And then last cage,
last cage,
there you were, Boris.
With your gray sister.
And you stood up and stretched and purred and promised, promised you would be good if
I took her, too,
because she had kept you alive all those days and days and days.
Three months in a cage,
Boris, with your sister,
living in the moment with only your memories of leaves and rooftops and warm brown mice.
I promise, you said,
and I believed you,
and I took home two cats-one more than I wanted, and a boy at that-
but you promised,
and I knew.

Copyright © 2005 by Cynthia Rylant

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical,
including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be mailed to the following address: Permissions Department,
Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

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