Desser the Best Ever Cat

Maggie Smith, Author, Maggie Smith, Illustrator, Nancy Siscoe, Editor Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers $14.95 (40p) ISBN 978-0-375-81056-5
In Smith's (Dear Daisy: Get Well Soon) affecting tribute to Dexter, a beloved pet, a girl narrator unspools ""Desser's"" history while weaving in family stories, such as her own arrival as a newborn (""When I first came home from the hospital, Desser wasn't sure if he liked me""), her new mobility as a toddler (""He wasn't too happy when I first started walking"") and the two bonding at last (""but he was glad when I got my big bed"" shows the feline cuddled on top of the youngster). Smith's cheerfully detailed art, a rush of bright colors and intricate patterns on fabrics and wallpaper and arranged like a scrapbook, convincingly reaffirms the mutual affection between child and pet, as well as child and parents, and charts the momentous events of their lives (the first day of school, the arrival of another sibling, etc.). The artwork manages to imbue the cat with expression and personality while remaining true to the animal's nature. The tone of pictures and text saddens when the cat begins to age, and Smith's expert handling of the family's grief and their communication about their feelings of loss will aid any child or adult experiencing a similar situation. This tale with its agile balance of humor and pathos and its emphasis on the importance of both treasuring memories and beginning anew will reassure children who have endured the loss of a pet. Ages 5-8. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/2001
Release date: 04/01/2001
Genre: Children's
Library Binding - 1 pages - 978-0-375-91056-2
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