Saturday, November 21, 2009
"Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World" by Vicki Myron with Bret Winter
My rating 4.5 out of 5
Where the book came from: checked out of local library
Synopsis from Amazon.com
"From Publishers Weekly
One frigid Midwestern winter night in 1988, a ginger kitten was shoved into the after-hours book-return slot at the public library in Spencer, Iowa. And in this tender story, Myron, the library director, tells of the impact the cat, named Dewey Readmore Books, had on the library and its patrons, and on Myron herself. Through her developing relationship with the feline, Myron recounts the economic and social history of Spencer as well as her own success story—despite an alcoholic husband, living on welfare, and health problems ranging from the difficult birth of her daughter, Jodi, to breast cancer. After her divorce, Myron graduated college (the first in her family) and stumbled into a library job. She quickly rose to become director, realizing early on that this was a job I could love for the rest of my life. Dewey, meanwhile, brings disabled children out of their shells, invites businessmen to pet him with one hand while holding the Wall Street Journal with the other, eats rubber bands and becomes a media darling. The book is not only a tribute to a cat—anthropomorphized to a degree that can strain credulity (Dewey plays hide and seek with Myron, can read her thoughts, is mortified by his hair balls)—it's a love letter to libraries. (Sept.)"
I really enjoyed reading the story of Dewey and the librarian who was his owner. My first thought about having a cat in the library was possible issues with allergies in patrons, but the doctors Myron consulted all said that the open design of the library made it unlikely a patron would have a problem and it turned out to be a way for allergic children to interact with an animal safely even though they might be unable to have one at home. Dewey touched the lives first of the residents of Spencer, Iowa, then surround counties and eventually the world. Film crews came for Japan to videotape him and he appeared in numerous news stories in magazine, radio, newspapers, magazine and TV. As he got older people came from far away to meet him. He seemed able to read feelings in people and helped them when they were feeling down or sick. Myron herself received comfort from him in hard times due to her own medical issues or deaths in her family. While I enjoyed the story I found myself slowing down as it came towards the end because I knew that being a cat who was 18 years old the next logical step was going to be his death. I knew already from news storied that Dewey was no longer living, but it felt like if I never reached the end of the book Dewey would still be living at the library, hiding in the shelves, riding on the carts, waving at the window until I reached the last page. I can't see either of the libraries that I regularly frequent buying a cat and having it live there, but at the same time I kind of wish that they would.