Book Review: Dewey the Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World

deweyI’m making up for my manly posts during the past weeks with this one.  So help me, I have a soft spot for cats.  And this little book seemed to target me perfectly.  I mean, how could I not love a book about a cat who lives in a library?

Dewey has been on the bestseller list for awhile, so it was only a matter of time before I got to it.  Actually, I listened to it as an audio book, and it was a great choice in that format because the reader had a lot lot of charm. I’m learning that I love to have stories with first person narrators read to me.  It feels like a very natural story telling format (and it’s a great way to do housework).

The book tells the story of Dewey Readmore Books, a cat who was deposited in a small town in Iowa’s library book drop box one cold winter morning.  The librarians found a frost bitten and freezing kitten and revived it, to find the most gentle and amiable feline one could imagine.  So, the library adopted the kitten, and Dewey lived 19 years in the Spencer Library, becoming an international sensation in the process.  His story traveled around the world, and news crews came from as far as Japan to capture the gorgeous orange cat in its home library. You can see the Japanese documentary, along with other news clips, on this site.

If you don’t like cats, I admit, you probably won’t like this book very much.  It’s mostly a homage to a very special cat, one who is very much a cat but also overcomes some of the more typical cat aloofness to become extremely sociable and friendly.  At times, Dewey seems  a bit too good to be true.

But then, there’s a lot of humor in the book as well.  Dewey is a picky eater and likes to frusterate the librarians’ best intentions at feeding him.  He’s also a bit of an escape artist.  Dewey’s addiction to rubber bands and miniature boxes is also quite funny.

What I found most unique about the book was its surprising commentary on our throwaway culture and our focus on youthfulness and beauty.  When Dewey ages and becomes less the playful kitten and more the sedentary, geriatric cat, the town loses interest in its beloved kitty.  Dewey’s “mom” and head librarian (as well as the book’s author and narrator), Vicki Myron, champion’s Dewey’s cause as well as the case for people who are less valued as they age and function less in society.

Another hidden gem within this book is Myron’s personal struggles as a single mother to develop a relationship with her own daughter, and how Dewey facilitates that relationship.  Myron also explains how her own chronic health problems, including breast cancer, were aided by small town support and the love of a sweet tempered and devoted kitty.

To visit the Spencer Library’s page dedicated to Dewey, follow this link.

If I recommend any books that you’d like to purchase, consider buying them through Amazon using the links on my site, so I get a percent of the purchase price back to buy more books to review!


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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I lived in Iowa during this time period, not far from Spencer. I will check the book out at our Barnes and Nobel. Thanks.

    AL: Wow! The book is truly about the strength and small town spirit of the community, so I’d love to see if it reflects your own experiences of it. I was charmed by it, personally, even though I’ve never been to Iowa, but I do have a fondness for small towns, having grown up in one, with our own small library (no cat, unfortunately).

  2. Have you checked out the website? It has a map with all the libraries in the world that have or have had cats, plus many pictures of the cats and links to the cat’s webpages. Washington state has seven cats that live in libraries!

    Iron frog also made a documentary entitled “Puss in Books”, about library cats and some of the crazy things that have happened in communities with library cats. It also chronicles the story of Baker and Taylor, the two Scottish fold library cats who were named after a book dealership, and became B&T’s tradmark. Keep a hankie nearby for that story…you *might* be able to find the video at a library.

    I read that Meryl Streep is going to play the librarian who owned Dewey in the movie that is to be filmed.

    AL: I knew you’d be all over this book! I’m not sure of what I think of it as a movie though! Maybe there’s some new libraries to visit now, thanks!

  3. thanks for the info

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