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Children's Literature Reviews
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Ghost cat
Mark Abley ; pictures by Karen Reczuch.
Toronto ; Buffalo : Douglas & McIntyre ; Berkely, CA : Distributed in the USA by Publishers Group West, c2001.
1 v. (unpaged) : col. ill. ; 27 cm.

Annotations:

"A Groundwood book."
When her beloved cat, Tommy Douglas, dies after many years of companionship, Miss Wilkinson is inconsolable until his spirit returns to give her comfort.

Awards, Honors, Prizes:

Tiny TORGI Award, 2002 Winner Print Braille Canada

Reading Measurement Programs:


Accelerated Reader
Interest Level Lower Grade
Book Level 4.6
Accelerated Reader Points 0.5

Reviews:

Norah Piehl (Children's Literature)
Miss Wilkinson is a busy retiree. Her days are filled with music and arts clubs, but the highlight of Miss Wilkinson's day is curling up with her cat, Tommy Douglas. When the seventeen-year-old black cat grows ill and dies, Miss Wilkinson throws herself into her activities with a new fervor, but nothing can fill the void left by Tommy Douglas. Then, one night, in the depths of her grief, Miss Wilkinson is visited by a ghostly feline who comforts her and leaves her with a beautiful reminder of Tommy Douglas's fiery orange eyes and with the will to carry on with her life. The story is an effective dramatization of the stages of grief, although children might have a hard time relating to the senior citizen protagonist. Odd details, such as Miss Wilkinson's activism in a social justice committee and her consumption of organic porridge, also seem aimed more at adults than at children. Young readers may enjoy spotting the silhouettes of the ghost cat in many of Reczuch's watercolor illustrations, but adults who have lost pets may be the best audience for this fable about grief and recovery. 2001, Groundwood Books/Douglas & McIntyre, $16.95. Ages 3 to 5.

Dave Jenkinson (CM Magazine, March 15, 2002 (Vol. VIII, No. 14))
A retired school teacher, Miss Wilkinson lives in a small house that she shares with her beloved cat, Tommy Douglas, whose eyes resemble the orange eyes found in British Short Hairs breed. The two have developed a routine, part of which involves the cat's jumping up on Miss Wilkinson's bed at night and purring. As the years go by, Tommy Douglas gradually slows down, and, after his seventeenth birthday, he becomes ill and dies on Miss Wilkinson's lap as she holds him. The elderly lady buries her treasured pet in her garden and plants a rose bush on top of the cat's grave. Keeping herself very busy with her many volunteer activities, Miss Wilkinson does not really take time to grieve, but she does observe that the rose bush is not flowering. However, when summer arrives and most of her activities stop, Miss Wilkinson realizes how lonely she is. One night, as she is sleeping, she is awakened by a sound. While she initially thinks that there may be an intruder in the house, she recognizes it is as the purr of a cat, but she can see no animal. Instead, she senses the pressure of something moving up the bed, something which purred in her ear as Tommy Douglas had done. The next morning, when Miss Wilkinson looks out into her garden, she sees her rose bush bearing two brilliant orange roses. Anyone who has had a pet to which they became emotionally attached will respond to Miss Wilkinson's emotions and find solace in the story's comforting conclusion. While the storyline is most worthy, Reczuch's illustrations add layers of meaning. Not only does the book have end papers, but the front and back end papers are different. The opening end papers reveal an empty living room bathed in diffused sunlight, the silhouette of a cat behind the curtains (or is it a ghost?). The closing end papers reveal a brightly lit garden in flower. Reczuch's illustrations are also quite revelatory of character, both of the vigorous senior, Miss Wilkinson, and the cat, Tommy Douglas. Reczuch is particularly effective in capturing the various postures cats assume plus their way of looking through half closed eyes. The sweaters, dresses, running shoes and slippers in which Reczuch garbs Miss Wilkinson are appropriate to a senior without being stereotypic. The wordless, closing double page spread of Miss Wilkinson sitting in her sunshine filled garden is a wonderful touch as is the final little illustration of a ghost cat languidly sprawled beneath a flowering rose bush. Highly Recommended. Rating: **** /4. Kindergarten-grade 3. 2001, Groundwood/Douglas & McIntyre, 24 pp., cloth, $16.95. Ages 5 to 8.

Isobel Lang (Resource Links, February 2002 (Vol. 7, No. 3))
Tommy Douglas is a small affectionate black cat with bright orange eyes who lives with his human, a retired teacher. They are very happy together. When Miss Wilkinson comes home from her many activities, Tommy Douglas is always there for her. He loves to lie by her feet in bed purring and sometimes he would walk up the quilt and purr by her face. When Tommy is seventeen, his health begins to fail and one day Miss Wilkinson finds him curled up in a closet, very ill. Nothing can be done and Tommy Douglas dies in her arms. Miss Wilkinson has him buried in her garden and plants a rose bush on his grave. Time passes and though Miss Wilkinson tries to keep busy she misses her cat more and more. Every morning she looks out her window to see if the rose bush has bloomed. She becomes so depressed and lonely because of her grief she feels too tired to do anything but sleep. When she is at her lowest, she awakens near dawn to hear purring at the foot of her bed. She then feels a slight pressure near her feet much like a small cat. Then that pressure walks up the quilt to her ear ,and the purring grows louder. That morning when she looks out into the garden, she sees that the rose bush has bloomed with 2 roses, a brilliant orange colour like 2 cat eyes. This moving story helps explain the feelings of loss, grief and loneliness. The text relays these feelings briefly and poignantly with great compassion. The illustrations are beautifully rendered with luscious colours and moving simplicity. Recommended for 5-8 year olds. Thematic Links: Death; Loss of Pets; Old Age; Loneliness; Ghosts. Category: Picture Books. Rating: G (Good, great at times, generally useful!), Gr. K-3. 2001, Groundwood/Douglas and McIntyre, Unp. Illus., $16.95 Hdbk. Ages 5 to 8.

Subjects:

Cats Fiction.
Pets Fiction.
Death Fiction.
Grief Fiction.
Animal ghosts Fiction.
LanguageCall NumberLCCNDewey DecimalISBN/ISSN
English (eng) PZ7.A1634 Gh 2001
2001431407 [E]
0888994338
9780888994332
9780888994332
0888994338 : $16.95
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