Rating: 5 stars
“Cat in the City” is a clever story (based on the “nine lives’ of a real NYC cat) by Julie Salamon about a stray cat in New York City who manages to live adventure after adventure while enjoying the fruits of life in the city.
In the beginning of the book, the cat is just that — “the cat.” He doesn’t have a name or a home, and he is very lonely. When he chances on a dog park by accident, he also accidentally befriends a dog named Maggie. Through the good offices of two of the friendliest dogs in the park, the cat becomes “Pretty Boy” and ends up with a home of sorts. He is still free to come and go, but he has Dee, who feeds him and keeps him safe during inclement weather.
When the rent is raised on her hair salon (she lives in an apartment over the salon), Dee is forced to leave the city, but she is determined to find Pretty Boy a home before she goes.
Kids and adults alike will enjoy reading about Pretty Boy’s adventures in the city. There is lots to be learned about New York as well: the musicians, the Washington Square Arch, the Algonquin Hotel and the parks. Pretty Boy’s adventure takes him all over town as he tries to find the right home.
He makes friends, learns to enjoy music, rides a bus, travels to the country, and enjoys life. Pretty Boy also learns many important lessons, such as the importance of family and friends. He strives to make those he loves happy, and those who love him are truly loyal friends.
The illustrations by Jill Weber also deserve a special mention. The colorful drawings are generously sprinkled throughout the book, and while they are simple in nature, they are moving. The faces — on humans and animals — are almost cartoonish, but filled with emotion.
The book, aimed at middle grade readers, would be a great read aloud for younger readers. But everyone can enjoy this simple, joyful story. And classroom teachers? Have students plot the locations Pretty Boy visits on a map. Have students research New York City and some of the places Pretty Boy talks about. And definitely listen to the cello music that Pretty Boy’s friends play.
Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, Dial, for review purposes.