A Persian cat adopted from a shelter becomes “foster papa” to four rowdy kittens in celebrity author Stern’s sentimental tale.
As a kitten, Yoda dreams big dreams. But when his owner tires of him, he is taken to an animal shelter, where his condition degrades and he develops an inferiority complex watching other cats leave with new owners. Then “a nice lady named Beth” adopts him despite his perceived shortcomings and brings him home to what Crane depicts as kitty heaven: There are cat condos, scratching posts and toy mice galore. Nevertheless, the vet diagnoses him with “a sad heart.” Suddenly, four foster kittens appear in the household, and now Yoda’s life has meaning, protecting and teaching the furry scamps. At last, “Yoda has a happy heart.” An author’s note explains that the real-life Yoda has a heart condition, but the patronizing language obfuscates this hard truth. Stern’s narrative suffers from abrupt transitions and a confusing timeline: Where does Yoda grow from kitten to cat? At his original home? The shelter? Beth’s? The plot is likewise flimsy, relying on emotional manipulation and arbitrary action for its effect. Judging from the photo of Yoda on the back cover, Crane paints him accurately, but jowly verisimilitude leaves little room for personality; the kittens have far more mobile expressions than Yoda does.
Proceeds go to the North Shore Animal League America, which is probably the best thing that can be said about this well-meaning but unsuccessful story. (Picture book. 4-8)