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The Cat With Seven Names
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The Cat With Seven Names

by Tony Johnston

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In a busy urban neighborhood, six very different individuals who don’t know each other have something in common: they all relish the companionship of a friendly cat that roams the area. From a librarian to a homeless war veteran to a little girl who’s just moved in, this cat makes everyone’s world a little brighter, a little less


In a busy urban neighborhood, six very different individuals who don’t know each other have something in common: they all relish the companionship of a friendly cat that roams the area. From a librarian to a homeless war veteran to a little girl who’s just moved in, this cat makes everyone’s world a little brighter, a little less lonely.

Each neighbor is unaware of the cat’s visits with everyone else, so he goes by many different names: Stuart Little, Dove, Placido—the cat answers to them all. Only when a near-accident threatens the cat does everyone learn his true identity and owner. In learning about each other, the people in the neighborhood come together as a community.

THE CAT WITH SEVEN NAMES is a heartfelt story that reflects the need and desire of all people to be a part of a community, to have a connection with someone or something—be it animal or human. Told from the perspective of each of the six neighbors, Tony Johnston introduces point of view to readers of all ages, while Christine Davenier’s loose watercolor illustrations beautifully depict the diversity of the world around us.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Like the sailor with a love interest in every port, this feline hero has persuaded several households that he’s a stray in need of feeding—despite his truly impressive girth. Johnston (Laugh-Out-Loud Baby) gives each of the cat-lovers a distinctive (if slightly caricatured) voice and a particular loneliness or longing. Davenier’s (the Very Fairy Princess books) loosely sketched spreads, painted in gentle pastels, offer more cheerful notes, softening the characters and making their essential benevolence clear. There’s a librarian (“He is so big I have dubbed him Stuart Little”), an older man (“Name’s Kitty-boy. I hope he likes that”), a Mexican widower (“Placido... you keep dry, amigo”), a hardworking cop (“I called him Mooch”), a homeless veteran (“Ol’ kitty brings me... a speck of peace. That’s why I call him Dove”), and a single mother and her daughter (“Here, Mouse... have some leftover ham”). A minor accident brings the six together and reveals the cat’s secret in a quietly satisfying way. Johnston’s story combines the particular charm of cats, the flavor of city life, and the way unexpected events make communities out of strangers. Ages 5–8. (Aug.)
Children's Literature - Carlee Hallman
A fat, city cat visits lonely people who feed him. Each person calls him by a different name. A lady librarian feeds him and names him Stuart Little. An elderly man feeds him and calls him Kitty-boy. A Hispanic man with a dog feeds him and names him Placido. A policeman shares his lunch and calls him Mooch. The cat gives a street army veteran a sense of peace. The man names the cat Dove. A girl, who is new to the city, feeds him and calls him Mouse. When the cat is almost run over, the driver of the car is also the cat's owner. This fright brings all the people the cat visits together with the real owner, who says his name is Regis. The owner says Regis will continue to visit. The people get to know each other and share a picnic. Neighbors find companionship through their friendship with a cat. Reviewer: Carlee Hallman
Kirkus Reviews
A friendly cat worms his way into the affections of a number of neighbors, gains new names (and enough extra meals to pack on a few pounds), and eventually brings together residents new and old. Variously christened "Stuart Little," "Kitty-boy," "Placido," "Mooch," "Dove" and "Mouse," the round gray cat offers companionship to a lonely librarian, an elderly gentleman, a widowed Hispanic opera lover, a red-haired policewoman with a fondness for fast food, a homeless vet, and a girl and her mom just settling into their new home. A (happy) twist at the end removes the cat from this particular community, but his presence, however temporary, has a lasting impact. Johnston's text is smooth and conversational, with pleasantly distinct voices for each of the characters, but it may prove overly long for some young listeners. The themes of diversity and connection are commendable, but occasionally, they seem to outweigh Johnston's plump hero. Davenier's soft ink-and–colored-pencil illustrations, mostly double-page spreads, have the fluidity of watercolors as well as a scratchy, scruffy charm. Repeated patterns and colors create a cohesive feel, as does the appearance of various characters in the background both before and after they have been introduced. Children will likely enjoy this visit to a newly united neighborhood, even if the catalyst for its creation is more device than distinct individual. (Picture book. 6-8)
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 4—In a quiet but busy neighborhood, six lonely people welcome a large, fat cat into their lives, each giving the feline a different name and enjoying his company for a while. There is a librarian who loves to read (she names the cat Stuart Little), an old man with a walker, a Latino man and his dog, a policewoman, a homeless ex-soldier, and a mother and her daughter who are new to the area. One day, when a car almost hits the cat, all of his friends run out of their apartments in alarm. The driver turns out to be his owner, who has been searching for him, and everyone begins to talk to her and to one another-discovering the beginnings of new friendships. The ink and colored-pencil illustrations help tell the tale beautifully, introducing the people and their living spaces and creating an indelible portrait of an endearing and very happy fat cat. The text is perfect, letting these neighbors tell their stories about the animal on two spreads each.This book is a true delight for individual sharing. There is a great deal going on in the neighborhood that is told only through the pictures as children look out windows and doors and closely examine the endpapers. At the very beginning, these neighbors are pictured going their separate ways but by the end they are talking and interacting, as the cat looks on smugly. This is a lovely book with a gentle lesson.—Judith Constantinides, formerly at East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA

Product Details

Charlesbridge Publishing, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
11.30(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.40(d)
460L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

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Meet the Author

Tony Johnston is the author of over 100 books for children, including THE HARMONICA and THE BARN OWLS. She lives in California.

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