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Children's Literature Reviews
Item 1 of 1

The best cat in the world
written by Lesléa Newman ; illustrated by Ronald Himler.
Grand Rapids, Mich. ; Cambridge : Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2004 (2006 printing)
28 p. : col. ill. ; 26 cm.

Best Books:

Best Children's Books of the Year, 2004 ; Bank Street College of Education; United States
Children's Catalog, Nineteenth Edition, 2006 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Children's Choices, 2005 ; International Reading Association; United States
Choices, 2005 ; Cooperative Children’s Book Center; United States
School Library Journal Book Review Stars, February 2004 ; Cahners; United States

Awards, Honors, Prizes:

Show Me Readers Award, 2007 3rd Place Grades 1-3 Missouri

State and Provincial Reading Lists:

Show Me Readers Award, 2006-2007 ; Nominee; Grades 1-3; Missouri

Reading Measurement Programs:


Accelerated Reader" "
Interest Level Lower Grade" "
Book Level 3.6" "
Accelerated Reader Points 0.5" "" "

Lexile, MetaMetrics, Inc.
Adult Directed
Lexile Measure 780

Reading Counts-Scholastic
Interest Level 3-5
Reading Level 4
Title Point Value 2
Lexile Measure 780

Reviews:

Ilene Cooper (Booklist, Jan. 1, 2004 (Vol. 100, No. 9))
There are many books about the death of a pet, but Newman offers a much needed one about integrating a new animal into the home, a sensitive situation that she handles with tenderness and humor. Victor always told his cat Charlie that he was "the best cat in the world," and when Charlie dies, Victor doesn't want another pet. But when the vet calls and says she has a kitten that needs a home, Victor tells his mother he'll give the tortoiseshell-colored Shelley a chance. At first Victor is upset that Shelley is so different from Charlie. Yet, as the days pass, Victor becomes intrigued by Shelley's kittenish ways and realizes that more than one cat can be the best in the world. Himler's full-page watercolor paintings usually focus on the humans in the story, but there are several images of Shelley that show her endearing ways. Putting the people front and center rather than the animal helps make the book also of use to families learning to love animals other than cats. Category: Books for the Young--Fiction. 2004, Eerdmans, $16. PreS-Gr. 2.

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)
Newman (Cats! Cats! Cats!\n) captures the conflicting emotions of losing a cherished pet and then learning to love a new one in this warmly reassuring tale. Young Victor, the narrator, mourns the death of Charlie, his old orange cat who had curled up next to him on a special pillow each night. "I cried and cried for two whole days. Mom didn't even make me go to school. We buried Charlie in the backyard and planted a rosebush for him with green leaves and orange flowers." Weeks later, at the gentle urging of his mother and the vet, Victor somewhat guardedly adopts a tortoiseshell kitten named Shelley. Shelley slowly earns her owner's acceptance and love through frisky antics and endearing habits that differentiate her from Charlie. While the text can be lengthy, particularly for the younger set, the story moves swiftly and tenderly. Himler's (I Wonder as I Wander\n) soft pencil and watercolor art conveys a myriad of feelings. Soothing and hopeful tones of muted oranges, yellows and greens provide backdrops for the realistic spreads as they showcase the new pet's playfulness (drinking from a faucet, biting shoelaces). Touching in its depiction of the carefully crafted bonds between a boy and his furry companions, this story comes full circle with Victor and Shelley peering out at Charlie's rosebush. A fitting read for any youngster facing the loss of a pet. Ages 3-up. (Jan.) \n"

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.

Subjects:

Cats Juvenile fiction.
LanguageCall NumberLCCNDewey DecimalISBN/ISSN
English (eng)
813.54
0802852947 (pbk.) : No price
0802852521 : No price
978-0-8028-5252-6
0802852521
9780802852946
0134499759849
View the WorldCat Record for this item.