Publishers Weekly - Publishers WeeklyNewman (Cats! Cats! Cats!) captures the conflicting emotions of losing a cherished pet and then learning to love a new one in this warmly reassuring tale. Young Victor, the narrator, mourns the death of Charlie, his old orange cat who had curled up next to him on a special pillow each night. "I cried and cried for two whole days. Mom didn't even make me go to school. We buried Charlie in the backyard and planted a rosebush for him with green leaves and orange flowers." Weeks later, at the gentle urging of his mother and the vet, Victor somewhat guardedly adopts a tortoiseshell kitten named Shelley. Shelley slowly earns her owner's acceptance and love through frisky antics and endearing habits that differentiate her from Charlie. While the text can be lengthy, particularly for the younger set, the story moves swiftly and tenderly. Himler's (I Wonder as I Wander) soft pencil and watercolor art conveys a myriad of feelings. Soothing and hopeful tones of muted oranges, yellows and greens provide backdrops for the realistic spreads as they showcase the new pet's playfulness (drinking from a faucet, biting shoelaces). Touching in its depiction of the carefully crafted bonds between a boy and his furry companions, this story comes full circle with Victor and Shelley peering out at Charlie's rosebush. A fitting read for any youngster facing the loss of a pet. Ages 3-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's LiteratureIn third grade my first cat, Betsy, died. I cried and cried just like Victor, the main character, does when his cat dies. Just like Victor, I buried my cat in the backyard and planted a special flower to mark her grave. Just like Victor, I remember feeling a vacancy in my heart for my cat. The lose of a pet causes intense feelings, especially for kids. The author captures this experience in a gentle, truthful, and universal way. It is a story everyone with a pet can relate too. But this isn't just a story about mourning. It is also a story about moving on. Victor adopts a new kitten, Shelly. Shelly isn't like his other cat, Charlie, but Victor soon comes to love Shelly for her differences. This is an excellent book for any child, or adult for that matter, to read when they are dealing with death. It is funny, kind, and honest. Most importantly it is hopeful. 2004, Eerdmans, Ages 5 to 11.
Library Journal - Library JournalGr 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 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus ReviewsEvery night Victor always asked Charlie, "Who's the best cat in the world?" Charlie would purr contentedly in reply. When Charlie dies, Victor is heartbroken. Everyone tries to ease his grief. Mom makes his favorite supper, but he has little appetite. His teacher and classmates draw pictures of Charlie. Then the vet asks Victor to take in a new kitten. At first Victor constantly compares Shelly to Charlie and finds her wanting. But gradually he begins to appreciate her as his new "best cat in the world." The adults display kindly acceptance and great wisdom in helping Victor deal with the death of his beloved pet. Newman skillfully manages to convey sympathy without being cloying, and she never belittles Victor's feelings. Himler's watercolor illustrations are appropriately warm and fuzzy, and are well-matched to the text. A sweet story about grief and acceptance. (Picture book. 4-6)
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