1964: It’s Like This, Cat (every feline wants to be named Cat)

VERDICT: Treasure? 

Laurinda’s Rating: 3/5

In the 1964 Newbery Medal Winner, Dave adopts a cat from a local hoarder cat lady. He takes the feline, which he creatively names Cat, on his many adventures around New York City. Cat facilitates his interactions with a number of interesting people. Tom, for example, picks the lock on a basement locker to release the hapless Cat; Tom is later caught returning some items he liberated on a dare. Dave and Tom’s friendship forms one of the few coherent subplots in It’s Like This, Cat.

Although the characters are congenial, the book is light on plot. Dave does work through some common adolescent issues, particular in how he interacts with his father. Through Tom’s interaction with Dave’s father, as well as in contrast to Tom’s own father, Dave comes to see the helpful, generous side of his father. Most of the story, however, is just Dave gallivanting around, taking the subway to New York landmarks like Coney Island.

Altogether, this Newbery entry is an atmospheric but forgettable one. I cautiously recommend it to people with a great love of New York City, because it has great descriptions of the early 1960’s life of the city. It might also be of interest to cat lovers because of Cat’s adventures, though there is a scene where a kitten dies. However, there are both stronger animal adventures out there and better novels set in NYC. This is NOT an essential read, unless you, like Sally and I, are reading all of the Newbery winners.

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