I fell in love with Vicki Myron's book, Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World. As a kitten, Dewey was left in the book return at the public library in Spencer, Iowa. As a librarian, and the owner of a kitten left at the library, Dewey touched my heart. Myron and her co-author, Bret Witter, relates the story of how Dewey touched people throughout the world.
Dewey was left in the bookdrop on a cold day in January, a day so cold that the kitten's paws were frostbitten. When Vicki, the Library Director, discovered him, she found a loving kitten who was quickly accepted, first by the staff, then the library board, and, eventually by the people of Spencer. He brought a polarized staff together, and helped townspeople reclaim their pride in their town.
Spencer, in northwest Iowa, is a small town that hasn't changed much since 1931. However, in the 1980s and '90s, the community was affected by the farm crisis, and industries that left town, and left unemployed people. Like now, the public library found itself a refuge and necessary place for people looking for jobs and assistance with job hunting. Dewey provided a welcome, and a warmth that the people appreciated, from children with disabilities to board members of the genealogy club. He was welcome at storytime, and welcomed everyone at the front door. Before long, Dewey became the heart of the library. And, when his photograph started to appear in newspapers, magazines and calendars, his fame, and that of Spencer, stretched across the United States, and to Britain and Japan.
Myron uses the book to tell the story, not only of Dewey, but also of the library, and small-town life in Spencer, Iowa. As a library advocate, she shows how the library, as well as the cat, touched the lives of so many people. She shows the value of libraries, and their importance in communities.
I won't lie and tell you that the book won't break your heart at the end. However, Dewey and Vicki spent more than nineteen years together at the Spencer Public Library. They shared a love for the library, and the townspeople, that resonates through the book. Dewey taught people to appreciate him, but, he attracted people who might never have come to the library, or might never have felt welcome there before. Anyone who loves cats, or small-town libraries, or small towns, should pick up this book, Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World.
Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter. Grand Central Publishing, ©2008. ISBN 9780446407410 (hardcover), 277p.
Our cat, Annika Nicole, Nikki, was a library kitten. No, she doesn't spend her life at a public library. She spends it with two doting people who are readers and love books. But, like Dewey, she was found at the library on a very cold morning. Our library director found a wrapped box at the Main Library, and, in the box was a litter of kittens. The library staff fed these very young kittens, who were only about five weeks old, and publicized the need for homes. People from the city staff stopped in to adopt kittens. By the time Jim and I arrived in the afternoon, Nikki was the only one left, a kitten who kept crying until Jim picked her up. Then, she cuddled down and adopted her person. To this day, Nikki has doting aunts on the library staff who receive occasional pictures. Kittens should never be dumped, particularly kittens too young to be taken from their mothers. But, sometimes, those library kittens turn into very lucky, very special cats. Like Dewey. Like our Nikki.