Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dewey by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter

Title: Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World

Author: Vicki Myron with Bret Witter
# pages: 271
Date published: 2008
Genre: nonfiction (memoir)

Challenges: Book Around the States Challenge, Countdown Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge, Support Your Local Library Challenge, New Author Challenge, Pages Read Challenge, Raved-About Reads Challenge



First sentence:
"January 18, 1988, was a bitterly cold Iowa Monday."

What's it all about? On one of the coldest January mornings of 1988, the staff of the Spencer, Iowa public library opened the library's drop box to find not just books, but also a tiny, orange, frostbitten kitten. The library director, Vicki Myron, and her staff nursed him back to health, got permission from the library board to keep the cat in the library, and named him Dewey Readmore Books. This book is about Dewey--the special way in which he interacted with the residents of Spencer, how his presence garnered the library and the town international attention, and, especially, his impact on the life of his mom, Vicki Myron.

Random thoughts: First off, let me say, I LOVE Dewey's full name (Dewey Readmore Books) and is that not a fabulous picture on the cover??? He's just adorable ;o) I wish my library had a cat.

I've read a few other reviews of Dewey and its seems as if some readers were happy to read about more than just Dewey and others were not. I mostly did. I enjoyed learning more about Iowa and its history. The author's pride in her hometown definitely shines through. I also enjoyed Vicki's personal stories about her family, her daughter, and her health. There were a few spots in the book that were a little slow going, but, overall, I liked it.

Dewey did raise an interesting question (at least for me) -- Do you think animals (cats, dogs, horses, whatever) can sense human emotion and respond accordingly? Vicki Myron obviously thinks so. There are numerous times in the book where she talks about Dewey spending extra quality time with library workers and patrons that needed him for a special reason (they were sick, going through a hard time, or had special needs, for example). I don't know, but it does seem (to me at least) that my cats can sense when I need them, too. If I shed a few tears (over a book, for example) they crowd around me and lick whatever body part is closest to them. And anytime I'm feeling down, they seem to be around to snuggle and make me feel better. Possibly, I believe this because I'm just as crazy about my cats as Vicki is about Dewey (I think I may be one of those "crazy old cat ladies" ;o)). I don't know...What do you guys think? Can animals sense your mood/neediness and respond accordingly? Or do humans just make this stuff up to make themselves feel better?

Favorite quote(s):
"Some patrons came to the library for a purpose -- to check out a book, to read the newspaper, to find a magazine. Other patrons considered the library a destination. They enjoyed spending time there; they were sustained and strengthened." (p. 66)
"You've no doubt noticed the strings of a fresh ear of corn. Those are the silks. Each one is connected to a particular spot on the ear. The spot grows a kernel only if that particular sting is fertilized by pollen. The ear is made piece by piece, one kernel at a time, For an ear of corn to be whole, every silk must be fertilized." (p. 208-209)

I didn't know that!! That's kinda' cool...

Favorite scene: When a family of four from Rhode Island decided to rent a car and drive the four and a half hours from Minneapolis, where they were visiting, to Spencer to meet Dewey because they had read about him in Cats magazine. When Vicki asked them why they had driven all that way, they said "We're cat lovers." Uh...yeah...;o). They weren't the only ones either...there were those people from Hong Kong...

Fun tidbits:
Recommended for: anyone who loves cats, or animal stories in general. However, if you can't stand it when Great Aunt Mildred starts raving about one of her animals and how human-like/amazing he/she is, you might want to skip it.


Jeane said...

I still haven't read this book! Shame on me. I like the quotes you shared.

My cats definitely seem to sense emotions. When my toddler is sad and cries, they come anxiously to rub against her, looking up into her face. I can only think they're trying to give her comfort.

jenclair said...

This has been on my list for a while, maybe I should move it up!

Mary Beth said...

I definitely think animals have a sense of when you need them. My sister works in a hospital in PA and they have some dogs that visit some of the patients and the dogs know which ones need them the most. They head straight for those rooms.

Anonymous said...

I have this in my reading pile. I hear it's a tear-jerker.