Sunday, March 25, 2012

Review: The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook by Joanne Rocklin

In this warmhearted middle-grade novel, Oona and her brother, Fred, love their cat Zook (short for Zucchini), but Zook is sick. As they conspire to break him out of the vet’s office, convinced he can only get better at home with them, Oona tells Fred the story of Zook’s previous lives, ranging in style from fairy tale to grand epic to slice of life. Each of Zook’s lives has echoes in Oona’s own family life, which is going through a transition she’s not yet ready to face. Her father died two years ago, and her mother has started a relationship with a man named Dylan—whom Oona secretly calls “the villain.” The truth about Dylan, and about Zook’s medical condition, drives the drama in this loving family story.

The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook is a lovely, bittersweet story and you don't even have to like cats to like it.

The story revolves around Oona, her brother Fred and their cat Zook. Zook is sick, but as Oona points out to her brother, cats have nine lives and Zook is only on his fifth.

Majority of the story is about the previous lives of Zook, plus what happens to Oona and her family.

There were plenty of things I liked about this book. For one thing, I liked Oona's philosophies and theories. I particularly liked her rainbow whopper theory. It made me think of Burger King whoppers, but actually whoppers aren't burgers. Whoppers are stories, exaggerations or lies. Oona talks about different-colored whoppers, but my favorite is the green whopper, which she describes as:
That's why stories are green whoppers, because they're alive and growing and changing all the time.
The story contained lots of quotable quotes and smart observations, and I like the idea of telling original stories to kids. Most parents just read from books nowadays, which is too bad because some of them may have a little bit of J.K. Rowling in them.

Thanks to NetGalley and Amulet Books for the e-ARC. Publication date of The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook is on April 1, 2012.

  1. Lots of quotable quotes and smart observations.
  2. Good premise.
  3. Intelligent characters.
  1. It's a little bit predictable.
She was always smiling. That's because you get a happy feeling helping someone read. You feel sort of like a wizard.
There is something wonderful and incredible about people's names. You are given a name when you are born, and some people are given one before they are born. Your parents know nothing about you, except that you are very small, know how to yell, need your diaper changed a lot, and enjoy drinking milk. [...]
The wonderful thing is this: After awhile, it becomes clear that your name is the perfect name, the only-name-for-you name.
  1. You love cats.
  2. You would like to introduce your children to the magical world of storytelling.
  3. You want to feel like a kid again.



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