The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook

The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook

4.2 13
by Joanne Rocklin
     
 

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In this warmhearted middle-grade novel, Oona and her brother, Fred, love their cat Zook (short for Zucchini), but Zook is sick. As they conspire to break him out of the vet's office, convinced he can only get better at home with them, Oona tells Fred the story of Zook's previous lives, ranging in style from fairy tale to grand epic to slice of life. Each of Zook's

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Overview

In this warmhearted middle-grade novel, Oona and her brother, Fred, love their cat Zook (short for Zucchini), but Zook is sick. As they conspire to break him out of the vet's office, convinced he can only get better at home with them, Oona tells Fred the story of Zook's previous lives, ranging in style from fairy tale to grand epic to slice of life. Each of Zook's lives has echoes in Oona's own family life, which is going through a transition she's not yet ready to face. Her father died two years ago, and her mother has started a relationship with a man named Dylan--whom Oona secretly calls "the villain." The truth about Dylan, and about Zook's medical condition, drives the drama in this loving family story.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal - Audio
Gr 3�6—Ten-year-old Oona has faced the death of her father and now her beloved cat, Zook (short for Zucchini), has fallen ill. To spare her little brother, Freddy, from the harsh realities of life, she resolves to tell "whoppers" or tall tales to help keep him positive. Oona reassures Freddy that Zook has nine lives and has only lived five of them. Using storytelling methods passed on to her by her father, Oona constructs engaging narratives about Zook's past lives for Freddy. She also weaves in her feelings towards her mother's boyfriend in these tales. Joanne Rocklin has created a realistic and sympathetic character in Oona, Georgette Perna gives Oona voice as she skillfully narrates with a convincing and soothing tone. Listeners will agree that "Cat pee isn't a bad smell if you have a cat you love." This sweet tale (Amulet Books, 2012) of love and loss will resonate with listeners.—Amanda Schiavulli, West Orange Public Library, NJ
Children's Literature - Paula McMillen
Ten-year old Oona and her 5-year old brother Freddie live in an apartment with their mom and their cat Zook. Zook got his name because, according to Oona, he likes the fried zucchini at O'Leary's Pizzeria just across the alley. Right now Zook isn't doing so well; in fact he's at the veterinarian when the story opens and Oona strives to convince Freddie that Zook will be fine because all cats have nine lives. To make her point, Oona begins to tell Freddie stories about Zook's previous lives, and Oona is very good at telling stories. She learned to tell stories from her dad who died two years ago. It's important to know that Oona also tells whoppers. She has a color coded scheme to delineate the good from the not so good. There are blue ones and red, black and white, and then there are yellow ones that you keep secret, and Oona has a big yellow one. This is a touching story about how we cope with loss and impending loss. Oona, Freddie, and the entire cast of characters are realistically portrayed with all their strengths and flaws, and the voice of our narrator is consistently that of a ten-year old girl. Any young reader who likes animals (especially cats), or has lost someone close to them will identify with this spunky, imaginative, and oh-so-human protagonist. Reviewer: Paula McMillen, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 3�6—Oona is a 10-year-old who has big responsibilities and, according to her grandmother, chutzpah. When her cat, Zook (short for Zucchini), becomes ill, she must find a way to stay positive for her younger brother, Freddy. Since everyone knows that cats have nine lives, she creates several tall tales and "whoppers" about the feline's past five lives to entertain him and keep his worries at bay. Her love of storytelling was inspired by her father, who died two years earlier. Her mother begins to fall in love with a neighbor named Dylan; Oona has secretly nicknamed him "the Villain" because she's convinced that he was Zook's previous owner and that he abused the animal. How long can she avoid the truth about Zook's fate and about Dylan? This heartwarming family tale is filled with resilient and thoughtful characters who are willing to learn from their mistakes. Readers who enjoy the novels of Jeanne Birdsall and Leslie Crunch will appreciate this charming story.—Stephanie M. Rivera, Washington DC Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
All cats have nine lives, especially those with 26 toes, right? That's what 10-year-old Oona tells her 5-year-old brother about their rescued cat. They found Zook, named for fried zucchini, in the alley behind their apartment. Zook becomes the pivot for the plot when his kidneys fail and he needs daily infusions. Enter Dylan, a guitar-playing nurse, charms Oona's single mother and brother Fred, but Oona is convinced he's the VILLAIN who shot Zook with BBs several years ago. Oona has a penchant for telling whoppers, like her dead father, but hers are colored-coded (blue, black, red, white and yellow) depending on need and purpose. In her engaging narration, she capitalizes important words, teaches Fred to read with rebuses and tells him stories (again, like her father) about Zook's previous lives. With THEORIES to fit all circumstances, Oona's character is a combination of Harriet the Spy in curiosity and Anastasia in spunk. As in Rocklin's previous One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street (2011), the spirit of a diverse and multicultural community plays a key role. In an achingly honest resolution, Oona recognizes that, unlike stories, real life has both unhappy and happy endings. Another emotionally satisfying outing from Rocklin; hanky recommended. (Fiction. 8-12)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307968692
Publisher:
Listening Library, Inc.
Publication date:
04/28/2012
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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