The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook

The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook

4.3 15
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.

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.

Praise for The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook
STARRED REVIEW
"Rocklin’s characters are fully developed: readers will be invested. Set in Oakland, readers are also treated to a refreshingly authentic child’s view of a diverse city. The only imperfection in this novel is that it ends."
Booklist, starred review

“Oona’s character is a combination of Harriet the Spy in curiosity and Anastasia in spunk. Another emotionally satisfying outing from Rocklin; hanky recommended.”
Kirkus Reviews

"Just as she did in One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street, Rocklin intertwines her characters so smartly that the many coincidences and serendipitous events feel organic to the story. The story’s ending—bittersweet, inevitable, and true—offers much-needed catharsis for the family and for anyone who has ever loved a pet."
The Horn Book

"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."
School Library Journal

"There is a strong sense of place in this loving story with the ending sure to generate some tears. This would make a strong library lesson extension activity."
Library Media Connection

Awards
SCBWI’s Golden Kite Award for Fiction - 2012
Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award
Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award

Editorial Reviews

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)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781419705250
Publisher:
Amulet Books
Publication date:
04/02/2013
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
112,828
Product dimensions:
7.70(w) x 5.46(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Joanne Rocklin is the critically acclaimed author of several books, including One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street, which School Library Journal called “fascinating and thought-provoking . . . sweet and tart and sure to satisfy.” She lives in Oakland, California.

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The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
HomeSchoolBookReview More than 1 year ago
How would you feel if your pet became very ill? Ten-year-old Oona Armstrong lives in an Oakland, CA, apartment with her mother Terri, five-year-old brother Fred, and their cat named Zook, which is short for Zucchini. Oona and Fred’s dad Max had died two years before from cancer. Nearby is O’Leary’s Pizza where the kids work to help bring customers in and they get to eat fried zucchini, the only vegetable Fred likes—and thus the cat’s name. Now Zook himself has become sick, so Oona comforts Fred by convincing him that the cat is only on the fifth of his nine lives and telling him some wild stories about some of the previous ones. Will Zook get better? What will happen to him? Joanne Rocklin is the author of several books, including One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street, Strudel Stories, For Your Eyes Only!, Three Smart Pals, and This Book is Haunted. The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook does use the words “pee,” with reference to both cats and people, and “poopy,” as well as a few common euphemisms. There are some vague references to believing in love, magic, and God. The concept of “karma” is mentioned, and one instance of drinking wine occurs. Mom’s new boyfriend, whom Oona resentfully calls Dylan the villain, is a musician who sports an earring. Many parents will probably not have much problem with most of these items. However, some parents may demur at Oona’s penchant for telling whoppers, as she does when she tries to sneak Zook out of the vet’s office and bring him home because she feels that he can get better only with them. Although a distinction is made between simple fictional tales intended for amusement or entertainment and outright lies meant to deceive or hurt, the book may become the occasion for some discussion on the importance of always being honest and truthful. Otherwise, this is a warmhearted middle-grade novel about a loving family, and, aside from some of the things which I mentioned earlier, my basic reaction to it is primarily positive. Also, any child who has experienced the serious illness or loss of a beloved pet will certainly appreciate the drama of the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book... blew part of my mind.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is great and if you are reading the book while listining to the song on the wing by owl city it makes the sad parts even sadder.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think it's wonderful how the right books fall into our lives at the right time. I picked up the book for my daughter because she loves cats and the cat on the cover was adorable. Little did I know how much the author's words would touch our hearts. Oona attempts to deal with her father's death from cancer in many ways mirror my own daughter's journey, as she (and I) are figuring out how to go on without Daddy, who also died of cancer. Books that deal with this subject in such a thoughtful, and thought-provoking, way for children are too few. I'm so glad that this one fell into our lap. Anyone who appreciates the power of a good story, and the emotional tug of realizing that life still goes on after a great loss, will want to share this story with the kids in their life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I highly reccomend this book . I found it very touching.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is very magical
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Asum book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sucks
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a good book for 3 reasons,1 it is a sunshine state book in my school,2 I love to read,3 I like cats.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sad
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really grat book you should get it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book really touched my hart