Desser the Best Ever Cat

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Overview

A heartwarming and cathartic book for anyone who has ever loved, and lost, a cat.

This is the story of a cat, told by the little girl who loved him best.

From his first plaintive mew to his last loving purr, Desser was an essential member of the family. And for the little girl, especially, he was a constant companion. He was the catalyst for her first steps, thrilled when ...
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Overview

A heartwarming and cathartic book for anyone who has ever loved, and lost, a cat.

This is the story of a cat, told by the little girl who loved him best.

From his first plaintive mew to his last loving purr, Desser was an essential member of the family. And for the little girl, especially, he was a constant companion. He was the catalyst for her first steps, thrilled when she got her first big bed, and he was waiting for her after her first day of school. But as the girl grows bigger, Desser grows older. And eventually it is time to say good-bye. Still, by telling his story and remembering him well, the girl finds a way to keep him alive in her heart.

With the simplest words and truly adorable illustrations, Maggie Smith captures the special bond we have with our pets and offers a helpful method for coping with their loss.

A child describes how Dexter the cat had always been part of the family and how much he was loved even after he died.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In Smith's (Dear Daisy: Get Well Soon) affecting tribute to Dexter, a beloved pet, a girl narrator unspools "Desser's" history while weaving in family stories, such as her own arrival as a newborn ("When I first came home from the hospital, Desser wasn't sure if he liked me"), her new mobility as a toddler ("He wasn't too happy when I first started walking") and the two bonding at last ("but he was glad when I got my big bed" shows the feline cuddled on top of the youngster). Smith's cheerfully detailed art, a rush of bright colors and intricate patterns on fabrics and wallpaper and arranged like a scrapbook, convincingly reaffirms the mutual affection between child and pet, as well as child and parents, and charts the momentous events of their lives (the first day of school, the arrival of another sibling, etc.). The artwork manages to imbue the cat with expression and personality while remaining true to the animal's nature. The tone of pictures and text saddens when the cat begins to age, and Smith's expert handling of the family's grief and their communication about their feelings of loss will aid any child or adult experiencing a similar situation. This tale with its agile balance of humor and pathos and its emphasis on the importance of both treasuring memories and beginning anew will reassure children who have endured the loss of a pet. Ages 5-8. (Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Animal lovers of all ages will appreciate the odyssey of Dresser the cat. Told from a young child's viewpoint, the narrator grows up with the cat who at one time belonged to her father, "when he had big hair." This moving tribute tells the story of the strong bond between family and feline. It weaves the life of the narrator from birth to learning to walk, which Dresser isn't too happy about, to the birth of a sibling, which strengthens the bond between child and pet. The mutual affection between the two is woven throughout the growing up years. The young narrator relives the sad time of Dresser's illness and old age with a heavy heart. The reader is taken full circle to the purchase of a new kitten from the pound. The expertly written, engaging story ends with hope and joy of a new beginning, while fond memories keep the past alive forever. Smith's whimsical watercolors add a scrapbook-like look, sometimes in mounted fashion. The illustrations add beautiful depth to the text and bring the personalities of the story to life. This is a wonderful book that can be shared and enjoyed by families, in the classroom or anyone who loves animals. 2001, Alfred A. Knopf, $16.99 and $14.95. Ages 4 up. Reviewer: Sue Reichard
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-A girl honors the life of a much-loved pet by telling Desser's story, from the time her father found him when he was still single to his death as an elderly cat. As she talks about all the things she and Desser liked to do together, snapshotlike illustrations of the pair are spread across the pages. In essence, this is a scrapbook documenting the long years of friendship between a child and her pet, including their ups and downs, which saves the book from becoming saccharine. As Desser ages, he goes blind in one eye, and sometimes loses big tufts of fur. The pictures show an older girl who understands that she must handle her old friend gently. The artwork is sometimes overly sweet, but always pleasingly detailed, which lends an air of truth to the story. Desser's house and his family are depicted as comfortably messy with lots of homespun prints and patterns as colorful accents. Those who look carefully will see the girl and cat reading some favorite titles, including Puss in Boots and Millions of Cats. The reassuring message here is that loved pets live on in our memories. This will be a welcome addition for children coping with the loss of an animal, but it stands on its own as a charming story of one cat's life.-Alison Kastner, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From The Critics
Desser the cat is gone, but a young girl recalls him fondly in Desser The Best Ever Cat, a simple and very nicely drawn picturebook story of a small kitten who comes to live with a family. The cat brings joy and fun to the family, grows old, and one day passes on - this is a child's tribute to her cat, gently told with warm color drawings.
From the Publisher
“An agile balance of humor and pathos.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred

“Put this tender story on the shelf right next to Judith Viorst’s The Tenth Good Thing About Barney.”—Booklist

“This book is a must for anyone who has ever had a beloved cat. Grab a tissue and enjoy this beautiful story with your child.”—Bookselling This Week

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375810565
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 4/10/2001
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 360L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.28 (w) x 10.30 (h) x 0.39 (d)

Meet the Author

Maggie Smith: cat person and author and illustrator of many fine books for children.

From the Hardcover Library Binding edition.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 5 )
Rating Distribution

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(4)

4 Star

(1)

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2010

    My 17 month old loves this book

    This is one of the few books that keeps my 17 month old daughter's interest from beginning to end. We borrowed the book from the library and I just purchased if for her since she loves it so much. We do have two cats, so that could be part of the reason. However, the illustrations are excellent as is the story.

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  • Posted November 25, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Bless Desser...the best cat ever!

    I read this story to my son quite some time ago. By the end I couldn't even finish the story without getting all choked up.....every time!! Such a bitter sweet little story...Mostly sweet, with wonderful illustrations, honest but heartfelt. For anyone who has ever lost a pet, especially a child, this is a simple little story of loving and losing, and loving again those special little animals we call family.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2004

    Simply Wonderful

    What a wonderful book. The story is sweet, and yes, sad. I found myself getting choked up, especially with the illustrations. The book is so well done. For anyone who loves and has lost a pet. Again, the illustrations were colorful and helped tell the story so well.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2001

    For anyone that has a close relationship with their pet

    These illustrations touched my heart, especially the cat's realistic expressions. The book traces the friendship of the young girl in the story and her cat, from his life to his death. It would be appropriate for any pet lover or child coping with the loss of a beloved pet.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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