Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Animal Stories


Blue Mountain Lake in Arkansas is a place to relax, take long walks, and read. While my husband fished, I read three books last month—all relating to animals.

Orphan by Harry Haines, a fellow club member of Panhandle Professional Writers, has been on my reading list for five years. One aspect I found fascinating was how Harry intertwined local history and the business of quarterhorse racing into his novel’s plot. Author Diane Mowery, who homeschooled her youngsters, mentioned a fact not often included in book reviews: although the book is targeted to an adult audience, she can recommend it to teenagers. Here’s a suspense novel free of vulgarity and expressions that offend readers with religious values.

When our precious KittyCat died, my friend Suzi gave me and my husband Aubrey a copy of the book, Dewey: the Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World. That same day I gave Aubrey Going Home: Finding Peace When Pets Die by Jon Katz.

I can’t say Going Home met expectations. It has not lifted the grief that has lingered for more than three months. But at least now I understand it.
You may have heard of Dewey, the library cat. Although he died in 2006, Dewey’s fame continues to flourish through his image on postcards, jigsaw puzzles, and especially sales and circulation of the book, Dewey: the Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World. It’s a moving story about a bedraggled kitten, rescued by librarian, Vicki Myron, after being left in the book drop of her town’s library.

Spencer, Iowa, was in the throes of an economic downturn when Dewey, almost dead, arrived on its library scene. Beginning with newspaper coverage of the contest that gave the kitten his official name--Dewey Readmore Books—the orange tabby garnered publicity.

As Dewey’s popularity increased among library patrons, the library evolved from a book warehouse to a community’s gathering place. His entertaining personality helped to revive the spirits of area residents fighting for survival in hard times. Stories about Dewey spread, at first from library newsletters to newspapers to national and then international media.

As an international celebrity, Dewey proved to be an economic asset as well. “When Dewey died in 2006 at the age of 19, his obituary appeared in over 250 newspapers, including the New York Times, USA Today and the Des Moines Register, and was announced on the national television evening news.”—

“We still have 3 people (Kim, Joy and Paula) that worked at the library when Dewey was here. I was actually here the day he came,” said Kim Peterson in an email.

The sale of bookbags and other “Dewey” merchandize helps support library programs. Spencer’s adorable library cat continues to draw interest—daily emails, said Ms. Peterson, and “a few phone calls a month.”

Beach reading season is almost here. You can purchase the books through most book sellers or borrow them from many public libraries. All three books are available for loan from Amarillo’s public library system. Dewey (I give it two thumbs up) is also on a CD. 

© 2013, Bernice W. Simpson

1 comment:

  1. Bernie, you celebrate people's accomplishments so well. But then you're gifted that way. What is life if not a constant struggle sprinkled with gems. The community of Spencer certainly got their gem. I enjoyed your post. Keep on writing.