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Midwest Book Review (Children's Bookwatch, May 2004)
Flowing color paintings by Ronald Himler add a moving touch to The Best Cat In The World is a poignant story by Leslea Newman about a young boy named Victor who loses his beloved feline companion Charlie to old age. When a new cat, Shelley, comes to the household, she is different from Charlie in almost every way - she doesn't do the things Charlie used to do, or respond in the same way. But in time Victor learns that his new friend is unique and special, and every bit as much "the best cat in the world" as Charlie was, in this profoundly compelling picture book about grief and the slow process of healing. The Best Cat In The World is especially recommended reading for young people who have lost a treasured animal companion. The Picturebook Shelf ...., Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, $16.00 . ages 4+
Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children's Literature)
Victor, our narrator, is sure that his pet Charlie is "the best cat in the world." But Charlie is very old. The vet can't do anything more for him, and he dies. Victor is devastated. When his mother suggests getting a new cat, Victor doesn't want it. Then the vet calls to ask Victor to help her. She needs a home for a new kitten. Victor hesitates, fearing that he won't like the kitten; perhaps he is also being disloyal to Charlie. He must learn to accept the fact that Shelley is different from Charlie in many ways. But of course he eventually does, and comes to feel the perhaps she is now "the best cat in the world." Himler's sensitive watercolor and pencil portraits of Victor and the kitten help make this sentimental story more engaging. Full-page scenes supply the homey details that add authenticity to the narrative. This book can help children adjust to the loss of a pet, as can Emily Chichester Clark's recent Up in Heaven (Doubleday). 2004, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, $16.00. Ages 3 to 8.
Mary Quattlebaum (Children's Literature)
Grief and a gradual acceptance of loss cut to the heart of The Best Cat in the World by Leslea Newman. Victor and his cat, Charlie, have been buddies for a long, long time. When Charlie gets sick, the vet has to explain to the boy that she can't make the old cat young again. And when Charlie dies, Victor cries for "two whole days" and frequently visits the rosebush that marks the cat's grave. For young readers dealing with a similar loss, this could be a comforting book--not because it offers an easy, happy ending but because its quiet tone and slower pacing allow Victor his grief. The people in his life don't try to diminish his sadness or offer superficial distrations. When the vet asks him to care for a kitten, Victor tries to treat the little animal as he did Charlie--and then realizes she has her own quirky personality. Ronald Himler's watercolors, in subdued colors, contribute to the book's mood of sadness, gentle dignity and renewed love. 2004, Eerdmans, $16.00. Ages 5 up.
Louise Parsons (Children's Literature)
In third grade my first cat, Betsy, died. I cried and cried just like Victor, the main character, does when his cat dies. Just like Victor, I buried my cat in the backyard and planted a special flower to mark her grave. Just like Victor, I remember feeling a vacancy in my heart for my cat. The lose of a pet causes intense feelings, especially for kids. The author captures this experience in a gentle, truthful, and universal way. It is a story everyone with a pet can relate too. But this isn't just a story about mourning. It is also a story about moving on. Victor adopts a new kitten, Shelly. Shelly isn't like his other cat, Charlie, but Victor soon comes to love Shelly for her differences. This is an excellent book for any child, or adult for that matter, to read when they are dealing with death. It is funny, kind, and honest. Most importantly it is hopeful. 2004, Eerdmans, $16.00. Ages 5 to 11.
CCBC (Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices, 2005)
When his cat, Charlie, dies of old age, Victor is grief stricken. He cries for days and rejects his mother's suggestion of a new pet. But when the veterinarian calls about a kitten needing a place to live, Victor tentatively agrees to bring her home. Although Shelley, the new kitten, is friendly and active, at first Victor can only see the ways in which she is different from Charlie. She naps in the living room instead of on Victor's bed, she doesn't wake him in the morning as Charlie always did, and she doesn't like to be touched while eating. Gradually, Victor is able to appreciate Shelley for her own characteristics, like the way she grabs at his shoelaces, chases her tail, and rolls over for a belly rub. Other books have been written about the death of a pet, but Lesléa Newman's text is notable for its sensitive and respectful portrayal of a child's intense loss and the gradual development of a relationship—rather than instant rapport—with a new animal. Ronald Himler's pencil and watercolor illustrations highlight Victor's emotional body language. CCBC categories: Picture Books for School-Aged Children. 2004, Eerdmans, 32 pages, $16.00. Ages 5-8.
Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2004 (Vol. 72, No. 1))
Every night Victor always asked Charlie, "Who's the best cat in the world?" Charlie would purr contentedly in reply. When Charlie dies, Victor is heartbroken. Everyone tries to ease his grief. Mom makes his favorite supper, but he has little appetite. His teacher and classmates draw pictures of Charlie. Then the vet asks Victor to take in a new kitten. At first Victor constantly compares Shelly to Charlie and finds her wanting. But gradually he begins to appreciate her as his new "best cat in the world." The adults display kindly acceptance and great wisdom in helping Victor deal with the death of his beloved pet. Newman skillfully manages to convey sympathy without being cloying, and she never belittles Victor's feelings. Himler's watercolor illustrations are appropriately warm and fuzzy, and are well-matched to the text. A sweet story about grief and acceptance. 2004, Eerdmans, 32p, $16.00. Category: Picture book. Ages 4 to 6. © 2004 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
Cherry Shults (The Lorgnette - Heart of Texas Reviews (Vol. 17, No. 1))
Victor has a cat that he thinks is the best cat in the world. Victor often asks Charlie, the cat, “Who’s the best cat in the world?” Charlie purrs a rumbling reply. But even the best cat in the world doesn’t live forever, and Victor is very sad when Charlie dies. His mother suggests getting a new cat, but Victor isn’t so sure because he wants another cat like Charlie. Finally, when the vet tells Victor she has another cat that really needs a home, Victor agrees to give the new cat a chance. But the new cat, Shelley, isn’t like Charlie and doesn’t like to do the things Charlie used to do. The book comes recommended as an excellent source of reading for a child whose pet dies and needs to learn how to overcome the death of a well-loved pet to the acceptance of a new pet. Fiction. Grades PreK. 2004, Eerdmans, Unpaged., $16.00. Ages 3 to 5.
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0802852947 (pbk.) : No price|
0802852521 : No price