December 30, 2008

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

I first saw Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World when LibrayThing announced the Early Reviewer books that were available a few months ago. It immediately appealed to me and I requested it but was chosen for a different book instead. I saw it in stores while shopping with my mother before I'd known I wouldn't be receiving it and had to tell her about it right away. Cat lover that she is as well, she took it home that day.

Those of you who've seen the cover know Dewey is an orange tabby and so it sat for a while before either of us would read it. We lost our own sweet blond tabby, Aloof, in March and so each of us had a desire for reading and yet not reading this book. We knew it would come with heart ache.

My mother wasn't half way through reading Dewey when she announced that she wasn't going to allow me to read it because she said it would hurt me too much. She said Dewey shared many of the same characteristics as Loofy. This is a woman who seven months ago held her tears for him away and cried alone to keep me from her pain because she knew mine was great with him being extraordinarily special to me as well. She didn't tell me much from the book at all as she read but eventually announced (SPOILER) that Dewey would die and that it was the biggest reason for her keeping it from me. (END spoiler.)

I waited but as the holidays drew nearer and this was to be the first Christmas without Loofy, I asked for the book one night. I didn't begin reading it until the morning during a free half hour before work. All I got through was one chapter before turning up at work blurry-eyed after clearing away tears.

Dewey remained a very touchy and emotional book for me but many of the tears weren't just for my sadness but for reminders of happy memories of my own sweet tabby. I cried for the little kitten who was abandoned early on (Dewey and Loofy), the cat who had to have the Dewey-Carry (Dewey and Loofy), and the cat who had to be right there in the middle of everything (Dewey and Loofy). Part of my avoiding writing about this book (yes, I avoided it) was as one might guess because of Loofy. I want to read this book again some day and yet it is one of those books that need only be read once because of how it touched me.

(SPOILER.) Like Vicki Myron, I knew my baby's time was limited as the life of all things must be. She knew Dewey's day would come and prepared for it while I was never able to. I could not see a life without Loofy. It seemed the clock should have stopped with his failing heart. I was almost hit by a car the morning after he died on the way to work feeling at the time that I didn't care if it would or not. (END spoiler.) While our dear furry friends are our pets, sometimes they are a great deal more than any non-animal lover could imagine. They are our companions, our children, and our greatest friends. (SPOILER.) I am sorry Dewey's last day was reached but am happy he lived his long and full, something my sweetie did not.

(SPOILER continued.) I can understand why this book was written. It was to share Dewey's story to those who knew part or all of Dewey's life already. It was also to share it with those who never had the pleasure and opportunity of meeting or knowing about him. Further still, it was so Dewey would always have a place on a bookshelf as he did before, not in one but now in many libraries. It also placed him as always before in the lap of a reading human, where he so often slept in the small town library of Spencer, Iowa. (END spoiler.)

I recommend this book not simply to cat lovers, but those of small towns, those fond of books and libraries, and those who are perhaps looking for the beauty of a very special connection between not two beings but between many. Dewey is a book to be cherished not simply about the love for an amazing cat by a small community but for the love of the world at large for him and his own great love for the world.

From the last few photo shots of Loofy taken in February of 2008 while we were on LibraryThing. "Get off the computer and pay more attention to me!"