Dewey by Vicki Myron

July 18, 2010

Summary I am not a cat person at all, so I never really heard of Dewey the library cat until this book came out a couple years ago and I saw the title on the NY Times Bestseller list for weeks and weeks. I finally decided to check the book out from my library, and surprised myself by finishing it in less than two days. Sure, the fact that it’s a short book contributed to the speed with which I ripped through the pages, but the inspiring, feel-good story inside helped as well.

Vicki Myron was the head librarian at the Spencer (IA) public library way back in 1988. She came in early one winter morning, as she usually did, and was surprised to hear a strange sound echoing around the building. She traced the sound to its source — the book drop bin — and after searching around, discovered a tiny kitten hidden among the stacks of books. It was clear that someone had heartlessly dumped the kitten through the slot, leaving it to nearly freeze to death as temperatures dropped well below zero. Vicki bathed the kitten in hot water to warm it up, then gave it some food. It wasn’t long before she fell in love with the little critter and decided to keep it.

Library cats aren’t that uncommon (something I didn’t know prior to reading this book), but Spencer, a very small town about three hours away from Des Moines, had never had one. Vicki convinced the library board to let Dewey (as she had taken to calling the cat) stay, provided that no library funds be used for his upkeep. Vicki paid for most things, while other staff members chipped in with cash or recyclable cans when possible.

Dewey became an immediate hit at the library. Once he recovered his strength from that initial ordeal, he instantly felt he belonged. He loved greeting patrons at the library, and frequently curled up on laps or in briefcases for quick naps. Most visitors enjoyed Dewey’s presence, though there were a few complaints. As time went on, Dewey became as much a part of the library and community as anyone or anything else.

Dewey’s fame grew, mostly because he was such a people-loving, gregarious, friendly, and smart cat — not standoffish or aloof at all, as some cats can be. He was profiled in newspapers and magazines across the country, and even featured on television shows and documentaries overseas. As Vicki said over and over in the book, Dewey never really did anything to earn this fame. He was beloved simply because he loved in return. Whatever the reason, Dewey Readmore Books (his full name) lives on in this book and in memory as one of the most famous cats in the world.

Liked:

  • Dewey was the star of this book, so the anecdotes about him had to be good — and they were. As I said, I’m not a cat person. I’ve never had one in my life and have never been inclined to get one. But I have to admit I found myself wishing I had a Dewey in my life! He just sounded wonderful in every way, a true friend and companion who gave just enough of himself while knowing when to back off. What an amazing little animal.
  • The story actually flowed pretty well. Vicki Myron had the help of a ghostwriter, which no doubt contributed to how good the final product ended up being, but she still deserves credit here. Sometimes these types of feel-good stories can get messed up if they’re not told properly. That wasn’t the case here.
  • The end had me bawling, even though I knew Dewey’s death would be included. I am a sucker for animal stories, and cannot read a euthanasia scene without losing it. This was no exception, so be forewarned if you’re as sappy as I am.

Disliked:

  • There were a few too many chapters about the town of Spencer itself and about Vicki’s life outside of Dewey and the library. That was to be expected, of course, as a book like this can’t just be about a cat. Those parts were a bit dull compared to the Dewey chapters, but they did serve to round out the story as a whole, so I can’t complain too much.

Rating

Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron is an exceptionally heartwarming story that any animal lover can enjoy. Dewey sounded like such a wonderful little fellow that if he were still alive, I’d be inclined to drive to Spencer to meet him. This book is not perfect, but the general spirit of the story is so elevating that I give it 5 stars out of 5.

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