Now everyone's favorite library cat can inspire a new audience of young readers with his story of courage and love. Abandoned in a library book drop slot in the dead of winter, this remarkable kitten miraculously endured the coldest night of the year. Dewey Readmore Books, as he became known, quickly embraced his home inside Spencer's public library, charming the struggling small town's library-goers, young and old. As word of Dewey's winning tail, or rather his tale, spread, the library cat gained worldwide fame as a symbol of hope and proof positive that one small cat could change a town, one reader at a time.
|Publisher:||Little, Brown Books for Young Readers|
|Product dimensions:||5.20(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.80(d)|
|Age Range:||8 - 12 Years|
About the Author
Bret Witter has collaborated with Vicki Myron since 2006 and has enjoyed every minute. He lives in Louisville, Kentucky with his wife and two children.
Steve James has always enjoyed making pictures. Steve received his BFA in illustration from Brigham Young University where he studied traditional painting techniques. He now lives in Lehi, Utah with his wife and crazy cat.
Read an Excerpt
Dewey the Library Cat: A True Story
By Myron, Vicki
Little, Brown Books for Young ReadersCopyright © 2010 Myron, Vicki
All right reserved.
Lost and Found
You find all kinds of things in a library book return box—garbage, snowballs, soda cans. Stick a hole in a wall and you’re asking for trouble. I should know. My name is Vicki Myron, and I am the former director of the Spencer Public Library in Spencer, Iowa. At our library, the book return slot was in a back alley across the street from the town’s middle school, so rocks and snowballs were the least of our worries. Several times we were startled in the middle of the day by a loud explosion from the back of the library. Inside the book return box, we’d find a firecracker.
After the weekend, the drop box would also be full of books, so every Monday morning I took them out of the box and loaded them onto one of our book carts. Same thing every week. Until one morning, one of the coldest mornings of the year, when I came in with the book cart and found Jean Hollis Clark, a fellow librarian, standing dead still in the middle of the staff room.
“I heard a noise from the drop box,” Jean said.
“What kind of noise?”
“I think it’s an animal.”
“An animal,” Jean said. “I think there’s an animal in the drop box.”
That was when I heard it, a low rumble from under the metal cover. It didn’t sound like an animal. It sounded like an old man clearing his throat.
But the opening at the top of the chute was only a few inches wide, so that would be quite a squeeze for an old man. It had to be an animal. But what kind? I got down on my knees, reached over to the lid, and hoped for a chipmunk.
What I got instead was a blast of freezing air. The night before, the temperature had reached minus fifteen degrees, and that didn’t take into account the wind, which cut under your coat and squeezed your bones. And on that night, of all nights, someone had jammed a book into the return slot, wedging it open. It was as cold in the box as it was outside, maybe colder, since the box was lined with metal. It was the kind of cold that made it almost painful to breathe.
I was still catching my breath, in fact, when I saw the kitten huddled in the front left corner of the box. It was tucked up in a little space underneath a book, so all I could see at first was its head. It looked gray in the shadows, almost like a little rock, and I could tell its fur was dirty and tangled. Carefully, I lifted the book. The kitten looked up at me, slowly and sadly, and for a second I looked straight into its huge golden eyes. Then it lowered its head and sank down into its hole.
At that moment, I lost every bone in my body and just melted.
The kitten wasn’t trying to appear tough. It wasn’t trying to hide. I don’t even think it was scared. It was just hoping to be saved.
I lifted the kitten out of the box. It was so small that my hands nearly swallowed it. We found out later it was eight weeks old, but it looked like it was barely eight days old. It was so thin I could see every rib. I could feel its heart beating, its lungs pumping. The poor kitten was so weak it could barely hold up its head, and it was shaking uncontrollably. It opened its mouth, but the sound was weak and ragged.
And the cold! That’s what I remember most, because I couldn’t believe a living animal could be so cold. It felt like there was no warmth at all. So I cradled the kitten in my arms to share my heat. It didn’t fight. Instead, it snuggled into my chest and laid its head against my heart.
“Oh, my,” said Jean.
“The poor baby,” I said, squeezing tighter.
Neither of us said anything for a while. We were just staring at the kitten.
Finally Jean broke the silence. “How do you think it got in there?”
I wasn’t thinking about last night. I was only thinking about right now. It was too early to call the veterinarian, who wouldn’t be in for an hour. But the kitten was so cold. Even in the warmth of my arms, I could feel it shaking.
“We’ve got to do something,” I said.
Jean grabbed a towel, and we wrapped the little fellow up until only its pink nose was sticking out. Its huge beautiful eyes were staring from the shadows.
“Let’s give it a warm bath,” I said. “Maybe that will stop the shivering.”
I filled the staff room sink with warm water, testing it with my elbow as I clutched the kitten in my arms. It slid into the sink like a block of ice. Jean found some shampoo in the art closet, and I rubbed the kitten slowly and lovingly. As the water turned grayer and grayer, the kitten’s wild shivering turned to soft purring. I smiled. This kitten was tough. But it was so very young. When I finally lifted it out of the sink, it looked like a newborn: huge lidded eyes and big ears sticking out from a tiny head. Wet, scared, and meowing quietly for its mother.
We dried it with the blow-dryer we used for drying glue at craft time. Within thirty seconds, I was holding a beautiful, long-haired orange tabby. The kitten had been so filthy before, I had thought it was gray.
By this time there were four people in the staff room, each cooing over the kitten. Eight hands touched it, seemingly at once. The other three staffers talked over one another while I stood silently cradling the kitten like a baby and rocking back and forth.
“Where did it come from?”
“The drop box.”
“Is it a boy or a girl?”
I glanced up. They were all looking at me. “A boy,” I said.
“How old is he?”
“How did he get in the box?”
I wasn’t listening. I only had eyes for the kitten.
“It’s so cold.”
“The coldest morning of the year.”
A pause, then: “Someone must have put him in the box.”
“Maybe they were trying to save him.”
“I don’t know. He’s so… helpless.”
“He’s so young.”
“He’s so beautiful. Oh, he’s breaking my heart.”
I put him down on the table. The poor kitten could barely stand. The pads on all four of his paws were frostbitten, and over the next week they would turn white and peel off. And yet the kitten managed to do something truly amazing. He steadied himself on the table and slowly looked up into each face. Then he began to hobble. As each librarian reached to pet him, he rubbed his tiny head against her hand and purred. It was as if he wanted to personally thank every person he met for saving his life.
By now it had been twenty minutes since I had pulled the tiny kitten out of the box, and I’d had plenty of time to think through a few things—the once common practice of keeping library cats, my plan to make the library more friendly, the logistics of bowls and food and cat litter, the trusting expression on the kitten’s face when he burrowed into my chest and looked up into my eyes. So I was more than prepared when someone finally asked, “What should we do with him?”
“Well,” I said, as if the thought had just occurred to me, “maybe we can keep him.”
Excerpted from Dewey the Library Cat: A True Story by Myron, Vicki Copyright © 2010 by Myron, Vicki. Excerpted by permission.
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