Oona Armstrong is a precocious 10 year old, living in Oakland, CA with her mother and five year old brother. Unlike most 10 year olds, she actually likes her brother Fred. In the alley behind their apartment house one afternoon, they see an undernourished black cat, with a white patch on her stomach in the shape of California and a dot where Oakland would be, lying in a big flower pot. It was fate. They’ve wanted a cat for the longest time. So, Oona takes off the tag with the cat’s name (Mud) and address and decides to adopt her. Since she seems to like fried zucchini, Mud is renamed Zook. The cat’s old house is around the corner from Oona’s apartment so she watches for the ‘villain’ who would let a cat get undernourished and lost.
One of Oona’s favorite lines is “…ever notice”. Like, a person you might not like, sometimes enters your life…ever notice? And so it is with the villain, but I get ahead of myself. Oona is dealing with a lot in her short life. The death of her father two years earlier from cancer. Zook becomes ill and is taken to the veterinary hospital, something else she must deal with. And lo and behold, she does have to deal with the ‘villain’, aka Dylan, coming into her life. But she does it with a smile, stories and theories.
To assuage Fred’s concern about Zook, Oona tells him that cats have nine lives and Zook is on her fifth. So she pulls her story telling ear and recounts Zook’s first life to Fred, using rebuses to help him learn to spell. To enhance the suspense, the stories always end with “…to be continued.”
The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook
by Joanne Rocklin
) is an adorable story, perfect for middle schoolers, full of hope and fun and stories. Everyone is nice from Gramma Dee to Oona’s mother and brother, to her friend Riya to the villain Dylan. Oona’s stories are fun and her ‘theories’ can be truthful, like names reflect the person.
So, if you’re a cat fan and looking for a fun book or even if you’re not a cat fan, The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook by Joanne Rocklin is worth the read. It’ll leave you feline good. See the trailer for this fun book.