Book Reviews

It’s Like This, Cat by Emily Neville

I didn’t mention that one of my goals this year is to read one Newbery book every month. Um, hey, one of my goals this year is to read one Newbery book each month.

This month’s was It’s Like This, Cat which I knew exactly nothing about, but it looked shortish. That was enough for me.

There’s really not loads to say about this book – teenage boy, Dave, takes a cat home from his crazy cat-lady neighbor, despite his dad’s complaints, and then the cat runs into a basement and he meets another older teenager skulking around down there. They become friends. He meets a girl at the beach. They become friends. He has a childhood friend who thinks the cat is a hassle and he just wants to pick up girls. They become un-friends. He and his dad clash a lot, but Dave matures a little. They become sort-of friends. The end.

I felt like the cat was a bit of a device – it didn’t seem necessarily like the cat was the driving story thread the book flap and title were promising (not that I cared; I’m not much of an animal person, in books or in real life). Frankly, the book could have lost the cat character and it would have been almost the same.

That isn’t to say it wasn’t a good book – I actually quite enjoyed it. It reminded me a bit of a Beverly Cleary book; there wasn’t a strong central plot, but more a collection of related episodes focused on one character. Sometimes, that’s just the kind of book you need, right?

Life-changing it’s not, but it was a pleasant enough way to spend a Sunday morning.

So, what Newbery book should be next on my list?

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  • Reply Kelly J. January 16, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    You mean, you knew a lot about it since we learned about that book in our oh-so-helpful ya materials class, right? 🙂

  • Reply Janssen January 16, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    Kelly – I will refrain from exclaiming in surprise that I don’t remember discussing that book at all! I clearly tuned out practically all of the “lectures” in that class.

  • Reply Terri B. January 16, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    Well, I don’t know about Newberys, but I can’t wait for you to review the Cory Doctorow book! I almost picked it up at ALA. I have a feeling I’m going to regret not having done so. You’ll have to let mw know. You are my YA guru. Did you know that? I play around in the academic realm but have a secret fondness for YA lit :o)

  • Reply Nina G January 16, 2009 at 11:44 pm

    I hope this was an Honor Book and not an actual winner. What else is (or isn’t) out there that this kind of lame book can win something, let alone a Newberry?

  • Reply Jenna January 17, 2009 at 12:23 am

    I don’t have any suggestions but I’m excited for you to write about the books you really liked so I can add them to my own “must read” list. My husband knows I dream of having a library like Belle, and if I did have that library it would have a copy of every single Newberry award book, as well as the honors books for each year.

  • Reply Packrat January 17, 2009 at 12:29 am

    My vote is for two books, both by Richard Peck:

    *A Long Way From Chicago won the 1999 Newbery Honor medal.

    *Its sequel, A Year Down Yonder, was the 2001 medal winner.

    My favorite is A Long Way From Chicago.

    These are quick reads. Funny as “all get-out”. We took turns reading these books out loud to my grandmother.

  • Reply tinylittlelibrarian January 17, 2009 at 7:34 am

    What a great resolution!

  • Reply Carly Jane January 17, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    I don’t think I’ve commented on your blog in way too long. Please excuse the absence. Google reader can nab me like that sometimes.

    Anyhow, as far as a newberry you should read… I’m going to assume you’ve read it, but throw it out there nonetheless. The High King by Lloyd Alexander. It’s the last book in the series… but if you haven’t read the series, you need to correct that (It starts with The Book of Three). I read these books over and over again starting sometime in elementary school. Love em. And The High King IS the best (and thus worthy of the Newberry).

  • Reply Becky K January 17, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    That is a cool resolution. I go so much with what is new I very rarely catch the award winners. I find myself reading Booker or Pulitzer award winners years after they won and wondering why it took me so long. I should try to remember to look for the award winners.

    And I just want to say, I love childrens & adolescent lit. There is so much substance to them that is surprising and often delightful. I'm intrigued by your master's program. One day, one day I'd love to get a masters. Good for you for doing it!

  • Reply RA January 17, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    Ooh, yes, I second The High King. That whole series is awesome.

    BUT, if you haven’t read A Wrinkle in Time, you must, and soon.

    (No pressure.)

  • Reply Erin January 17, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    Out of the Dust, Karen Hesse. It’s fantastic! I keep trying to convince my 13yo daughter to read it but she’s too wrapped up in fantasies. It’s well worth whatever time it takes–though it’s not overly long and it’s written in verse.

  • Reply Mad Hadder January 17, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    Caddie Woodlawn. Just finished Skullduggery Pleasant on your recommendation. Good vs. evil. Is there no end of books on that? This was a little cloak and dagger-esque, but a good change from what I usually pick up. Sequel? Movie? I vote also for the Richard Peck books. I’m reading Savvy. Have you?

  • Reply KT January 19, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    I found your blog from Maw Books. I hope you don’t mind.

    I have the same resolution – and have for the past couple of years… Some of my favorite Newbery’s so far have been:

    The Hero and the Crown, by Robin McKinley
    Bud, Not Buddy, by Christopher Paul Curtis
    The Twenty One Balloons, by William Pene du Bois

    This month I’m reading I Juan de Pareja, by Elizabeth de Trevino. Good luck!

    PS the word verification is: sneer lol

  • Reply Lara January 21, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    I’m sorry, I cannot think about books to recommend because I have just come to the realization that I have been spelling Newbery incorrectly in my head for my entire life. I know this isn’t that big a deal since I don’t think I’ve ever once written “Newberry” (sic) OR “Newbery”, but I’m still irrationally disturbed by this.

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