Every now and then, a book will show up at the right place and the right time. When that happens, I’ll know I have to read it right then and there. I had this occurrence recently when I picked up the Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter. I had been in need of a cat fix since one of the ones I knew passed away two months before reading this biography, and it helped that National Library Week was last week. Reading this title couldn’t have come at a better time. Not only is it a wonderful fulfillment of my love of cats, but it’s also a loveable and touching story on how one feline changed a community.
Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World is about Dewey Readmore Books – the library cat of Spencer, Iowa. At a few weeks old, he was stuffed into a return slot at the Spencer Public Library. He was found the next day by the library director Vicki Myron, who had struggles of her own. Dewey won her and the staff over by nudging each of them in a gesture of thanks and love. For the next 19 years, he charmed the people of Spencer with his enthusiasm, warmth, humility (for a cat), and his sixth sense about who needed him the most. As his fame grew locally, statewide, and then internationally, Dewey became a source of pride in the Heartland farming town pulling its way slowly back from the greatest crisis in its long history.
Within 10 chapters , Dewey charmed me with his lovability and determination to get attention (strategically of course). I mean, look at his face on the cover! Don’t you want to hold him in your arms after looking at him? (If you’re allergic, I totally get it.) It also helps that he was a people’s cat, as in he thrived when people, regardless of who, were around (except meanies).
Of course, Myron makes it clear that it wasn’t all a walk in the park. She hilariously recounts the times where she had to give Dewey a bath with mostly disastrous results. He apparently also had a habit of chewing on rubber bands and possessed a sixth sense of where to find them even in closed drawers.
Of course, along with the joy, it also recounts certain tragedies. Myron recalls the backstories of the town, the staff, and herself in the book as a way to show what kind of lives Dewey touched. She went through an alcoholic husband, breast cancer, the deaths of two brothers, and getting a Master’s Degree in Library Science while working as the library director. While there were times that I wanted to get back into the adventures of Dewey the library cat, the more I read about those backstories, my heart and understanding grew twice as big. I really felt for Myron and her story, especially when she dealt with her alcoholic husband, her distance from her daughter Jodi, and putting Dewey down in 2007.
Overall, Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter is a loveable book about a loveable library cat that connected with everyone that crossed paths with him. Sure, the biography goes into a lot of detail on the author’s life, but holistically it makes sense to know what kind of lives Dewey touched. I would definitely recommend this title to those who like reading about small towns, tragic backstories, and above all, those who love cats and libraries! It will melt you like Dewey melting into your lap.
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