Friday, October 24, 2008

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


How much of an impact can an animal have? How many lives can one cat touch? How is it possible for an abandoned kitten to transform a small library, save a classic American town, and eventually become famous around the world? You can't even begin to answer those questions until you hear the charming story of Dewey Readmore Books, the beloved library cat of Spencer, Iowa.

Dewey's story starts in the worst possible way. Only a few weeks old, on the coldest night of the year, he was stuffed into the returned book slot at the Spencer Public Library. He was found the next morning by library director, Vicki Myron, a single mother who had survived the loss of her family farm, a breast cancer scare, and an alcoholic husband. Dewey won her heart, and the hearts of the staff, by pulling himself up and hobbling on frostbitten feet to nudge each of them in a gesture of thanks and love. For the next nineteen years, he never stopped charming the people of Spencer with his enthusiasm, warmth, humility, (for a cat) and, above all, his sixth sense about who needed him most.

As his fame grew from town to town, then state to state, and finally, amazingly, worldwide, Dewey became more than just a friend; he became a source of pride for an extraordinary Heartland farming town pulling its way slowly back from the greatest crisis in its long history.

If you look at my library, or if you know me, then you can tell right away that I am a fiction nut, a fantasy obsessed reader, and I rarely, if ever, venture into the non-fiction section. And the few times I do try out a non-fiction book instead of a fiction, it's rare that I find a book that really grabs me and pulls me in, connecting me with the characters and story like fantasy books do. It's not always because the books are bad ones, but they're just not my type of book. But as soon as I picked up Dewey, I was hooked, as much so as if I were reading one of my favorite fantasy books instead of a real life one.

I don't want to give too much away, because I feel that to properly enjoy the story behind Dewey, you have to read and experience it yourself. But I will say that this story was an amazing, inspiring, and yes, tearful, one, told by his owner, Vicki Myron, who is, in my opinion, a wonderful writter and person. She didn't just write about Dewey, she wrote about everything that affected him or that he affected, both locally and nationally, personally and for the general population. It was told from the heart, straight forward and intense, but always true.

Dewey's life started out hard, but that fateful day, when Vicki found him and took him in, everything changed, both for Dewey and for everyone who would come to know him over his almost two-decade span of life. His story really touched me, and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone whom I thought would be able to read it and truly appreciate it. That is to say, someone who is not an animal lover, particularly a cat lover, may think it's a nice story and put it out of their mind, while someone who has grown up with cats all their lives, maybe even experienced a few that could be almost kin to Dewey as far as personality and the way that they touched the person's life, would probably cherish this story.

I've had cats my whole life, and though all of them have touched me in some way, there have been a few that stand out a bit more. Unfortunately, it always seems like those ones are the ones who pass on quicker, or so it seems to us, the owners. Though many of the extrememly special ones in my life have passed on, I still remember them, every special memory, every touch and connection that we had, and yes, sometimes, even years later, I still grieve for them, even though I know that they are still here in a way, and they are no longer in pain. Because of this, I felt an instant connection to Dewey and his story, though I had never met him, or heard of him before this book, and after finishing the story,my only wish was that I could have been able to meet him.

There was one line, the very last paragraph in the book, that really got me, and I think that it sums up everything I feel after reading this wonderful book:
"He's still holding me now. So thank you, Dewey. Thank you. Wherever you are."

Thank you, both Dewey and Vicki, for allow me, and other readers, to enjoy this unique, loving, and very touching story of love, survival, and more than a few laughs.

4.5/5 STARS! An amazing book about a very special cat and a city that pulled together to care for him, only to realize after wards that he was the one that cared for them. A must read for anyone who wants to be inspired and amazed, to laugh and to cry. Watch out, though: The ending is a 10-hanky that will probably have you blinking back tears for a while afterwards *Even right now, I'm not ashamed to say that I am still a little bit red-eyed and sniffly*, even causing you to stop at a few parts to collect yourself before continuing. It's a very powerful story, and one that I hope to be able to pass on to others.


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