A cat, spurned for his unique seven toes per paw, at last finds a home. "Readers will likely happily suspend disbelief at the music-loving cat's extraordinary intelligence-and the measures he takes to help out his new owner," wrote PW. Ages 8-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Gr 4-6-Named for the seven digits on each of his four feet, Toes is a highly intelligent kitten, and so different from his siblings that they reject him. His mother dies mysteriously, and he flees the house to escape his siblings' torments. After a grim, lonely period trapped in a basement, he moves in with a sad violinist who auditioned for the local orchestra several times but was not accepted. Their friendship develops and culminates in Toe's act of great heroism: he makes a dangerous journey to Philharmonic Hall, steals the conductor's prized baton, and leads the woman back to Sebastian's home, where she hears him play and offers him a job. Now old and near death, and not wanting his human friend "to find his corpse and get depressed," Toes drags himself to his mother's grave and dies on his seventh birthday. Small, black-and-white sketches of the cat in different poses begin each chapter. Unfortunately, this lugubrious fantasy requires a huge suspension of disbelief and a willingness to overlook internal inconsistencies and unexplained plot aspects (cats and mice can converse, but birds cannot; Toes is unable to read words but "thanks to all the sports he'd watched" he understands written birth and death dates; no explanation is given for why all of the cats in the story die at age five to seven). Despite much drama and pathos, Toes keeps his distance and readers will find him difficult to cuddle up to.-Susan Patron, Los Angeles Public Library Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
One of a litter of four, Toes the cat is born black with seven toes on each paw, whereas the other three are spotted or striped and have the normal number of digits. Their mother dies soon after they're weaned and Toes witnesses her burial. His siblings subsequently ostracize him because he tells them what he's seen, because of his polydactyl paws, and mostly because he's many times smarter than they. He begins learning to understand human words, enjoying classical music, and doing "tricks." One night, because of the treachery of his siblings, he's shut out of the house. He stumbles into another basement and is trapped. Kept alive by a deal struck with mice, he isn't discovered until the next spring. Sebastian, a struggling fiddle player who wants to play with the Philharmonic, adopts Toes, and they spend several happy years together. It's only with Toes's help that Sebastian finally achieves his goal and comes out of his shell. Seidler, writing in his Wainscott Weasel mode, has delivered an excellent, if melancholy, realistic story of a special friendship. Young cat lovers will be in heaven. (Fiction. 9-15)