The Best Cat in the World

by Lesléa Newman and Ronald Himler

When his cat, Charlie, dies of old age, Victor is grief stricken. He cries for days... read more

When his cat, Charlie, dies of old age, Victor is grief stricken. He cries for days and rejects his mother’s suggestion of a new pet. But when the veterinarian calls about a kitten needing a place to live, Victor tentatively agrees to bring her home. Although Shelley, the new kitten, is friendly and active, at first Victor can only see the ways in which she is different from Charlie. She naps in the living room instead of on Victor’s bed, she doesn’t wake him in the morning as Charlie always did, and she doesn’t like to be touched while eating. Gradually, Victor is able to appreciate Shelley for her own characteristics, like the way she grabs at his shoelaces, chases her tail, and rolls over for a belly rub. Other books have been written about the death of a pet, but Lesléa Newman’s text is notable for its sensitive and respectful portrayal of a child’s intense loss and the gradual development of a relationship—rather than instant rapport—with a new animal. Ronald Himler’s pencil and watercolor illustrations highlight Victor’s emotional body language. (Ages 5–8)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2005

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