cover image Cat Running

Cat Running

Thomas Fleming, Zilpha Keatley Snyder. Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, $15.95 (176pp) ISBN 978-0-385-31056-7

Play Day is approaching, but Cat Kinsey, the fastest runner at school, won't be participating in the races because her old-fashioned, bull-headed father won't allow her to wear pants even while playing sports. Cat is so busy being angry at her family that she doesn't have time to think about bigger problems-the Depression, for instance-until circumstances involve her with a family of ``Okies'' who work on a nearby farm. Cat's gripes seem small compared with the obstacles facing the Perkinses, who have lost both their land and their house to dust storms. Now, camping out in an old Studebaker, the Perkinses work long hours just to make enough money for food. Cat can offer the family little besides sympathy until the youngest Perkins, Samantha, catches pneumonia and Cat, running the most important race of her life, fetches a doctor in the nick of time. Snyder (The Egypt Game) gracefully demonstrates the strength and pride of the Perkins family. With equal skill, she relates how Cat's initial repugnance of ``Okies'' evolves into enormous compassion-which extends to her own family as well. This tender historical novel is as moving as it is insightful. Ages 8-12. (Nov.)