Saturday, August 3, 2013

Classic Review: It's Like This, Cat

Premise: Dave will soon be leaving junior high. He and his pet, Cat, live in Manhattan in the early 60s. Dave is street savvy and so is Cat. Along the way, they befriend a girl with quiet confidence and a troubled boy who rescues Cat. Soon, Dave's friends even impact his relationship with his parents.

Title: It's Like This, Cat
Author: Emily Neville
Length: 181 pages
Genre: Really realistic fiction
Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Content appropriate for: Grades 6-8

Three adjectives that describe this book: believable, simple, lacking

It's Like This, Cat is a 1964 Newberry Honor Book. I don't know why. As you can tell from the premise above, it's not a complex plot. In fact, there's virtually no plot at all. I tried really hard to make the premise of the book sound intriguing, but it just isn't... This book is about a teenage boy in 1960s New York. He goes around town. His cat gets in street fights. He hangs out with a girl. The end.

The saving element of this book is how well the author described the setting. Throughout the novel, NYC is painted with loving strokes of clarity. The author takes us all over the city. We experience Brooklyn, Fulton's Fish Market, Coney Island, and the Bronx Zoo. The setting of this book is almost a living character. Actually, it's probably the most complete and compelling character in the novel.

If you're looking for a book that helps you understand New York City life in the early 60s, this book is for you. If you want a mentor text to help you write a compelling setting, this book is for you. Otherwise, don't bother.
2 stars

It's Like This, Cat is my second read for The Classics Club. My entire list of classics to read is composed of children's books and I'm looking forward to filling this gap in my reading.

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