Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Maggie Smith & illustrated by Maggie Smith

Pub Date: April 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-375-81056-0
Publisher: Knopf

A young girl reminisces about the life of her cat, Desser, chronicling how the frisky kitten was acquired—“a long, long time ago, when my daddy had big hair"—and how their friendship blossomed. As the tale unfolds, both Desser and the narrator grow up; the passage of time is marked by the girl's milestones, moving from babyhood to childhood, first steps, first day of school, etc. With advancing age, Desser weakens and becomes sickly. Smith (Dear Daisy, Get Well Soon, 2000, etc.) handles the cat's decline with a delicate honesty. When Desser does die, readers and the narrator are prepared, though sorrowful. What follows is a burial, "with most of his toys and plenty of treats for the long journey up to Cat Heaven," and the eventual arrival of a new kitten. Smith's tale validates the grief a child experiences at the loss of a pet while comforting readers with the notion that although Desser's physical self is gone, he will never be forgotten because of the love the girl had for him. The expressive illustrations deftly convey the emotional tenor of the tale. Smith's renderings of Desser's antics capture the many facets of cathood—from regal aloofness to downright silliness. Every drawing is a salute to the deep bonds between child and pet, filled with typical activities and lots of details. Woven throughout the text, they blend scrapbook-style photographs with engaging vignettes. This forthright, compassionate tale is a sweet, soothing balm for bereaved pet owners as well as any cat lover. (Picture book. 5-8)