Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World

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.

16 comments:

Carol said...

Annika Nicole is a beautiful cat. I'm glad she found a wonderful home with you. I love cats. Right now we have two black cats that are bother and sister and as sweet as can be! I have Dewey on my list of books to buy. I can't wait to read it.

Lesa said...

Carol,

Anyone who loves cats is going to love Dewey. I hope you drop back and tell me what you thought after you read it.

Maureen Kopper said...

Nikki is regal looking! What a beautiful and fortunate kitty. I put in for the Dewey book on LibraryThing, but there are thousands of requests, so if I don't get it will definitely buy it thanks to your review!

susan259 said...

Your cat is beautiful! And a beautiful story to go with it.

Lesa said...

Oh, Maureen. And, she knows she rules the house, even though there are three other cats. In fact, we have a plaque in the living room that says, "Nikki's World."

Thank you! You'll enjoy it.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Susan! And, Nikki does have a beautiful story.

Shannon said...

Hi Lesa,
I'm glad to hear that you loved DEWEY as so many of us here in Iowa did.
Vicki Myron was my Public Library Management instructor and the fact that she kept this cat in the library, and for so long, is just another testament to her character. She is a wonderful lady.
I never had the chance to meet Dewey as I am severely allergic to cats but regularly Vicki would post an update on him. Dewey Readmore Books is missed in the community of Spencer I am sure, but I am so glad that Ms. Myron got the opportunity to tell their story so that his legacy may live on forever.
I'm first on the list as soon as it comes in. I'm glad to hear you've given it rave reviews.

Lesa said...

Oh, Shannon!

Even if you're allergic to cats, you will love this book. And, you'll probably appreciate it even more than I did because you know Vicki Myron.

It's a wonderful book, and it praises Spencer, libraries, and Dewey. And, it says a lot about Myron herself. That's so great that you know her, and knew of Dewey.

Lori Thornton said...

I've got my fingers crossed that I'll be one of the handful of lucky recipients of that book on LibraryThing's early reviewer program. I think my library is a pretty good match, but I sure would love to have it! I'll have to order it if I don't get it.

Lesa said...

If your library is a good match, you should order it if you don't win. You'll love this book, Lori.

Anonymous said...

I live in Pittsburgh, PA. I read Dewey, and I can tell you that it was a beautiful, heartwarming book. I am a "crazy cat lady", and I have recommended Dewey to all of my animal loving friends.Even though you know the inevitable ending to the book, I wouldn't trade not reading it. Dewey will touch hearts forever!

Lesa said...

Thank you! I'm a cat lady as well, and, although I sat and cried at the end, it's more than worth it.

J Wiles said...

For the reason we can't all love Dewey as much as you, even if we, too, are cat lovers: http://dontreadthisbook.blogspot.com

Lesa said...

Thanks,JWiles. Excellent review of the book. I appreciated all the aspects of the book, including the parts about Iowa and Spencer. But, then, I was Director of a small Ohio library, and Spencer reminds me quite a bit of my hometown. Maybe, for me, some of my feelings for the book was that nostalgia as well.

Shina Willson said...

Very... Nicee... Blog.. I really appreciate it... Thanks..:-)

Lesa said...

Thank you, Shina.