What’s so special about a small-town library cat? Well, if the cat’s name is Dewey, the answer is lots, enough to fill a book that has become a bestseller both here and abroad. He is rescued from a freezing drop-off box one morning at the library in the small town of Spencer, Iowa, by Vicki Myron, the library’s director. Though the library decides to adopt him, it is Dewey who proves that he is the right cat for the job. His first day there he walks around on frostbitten feet to every staff member and looks them in the eye to thank them for saving him. And when Dewey is introduced to the public, he goes out of his way to help people feel at home at the library.
Dewey has an almost psychic ability to sense people who are hurting and seek them out. This includes Crystal, a severely disabled girl in a wheelchair who was non-communicative until Dewey came along and befriended her. He helps Vicki on numerous occasions, and over the years they develop their own special psychic connection. He performs perfectly at the portrait studio (after a rough start) when she has a heart-to-heart talk with him. When she thinks the word “bath” or “trim” when she sees him, he is quick to disappear. For many years he would greet Vicki every morning with what she called the Dewey wave.
There is much to like about this book. I really enjoyed reading the many Dewey lists: Dewey’s Likes and Dislikes, Dewey’s Daily Routine, Basic Rules For Cats Who Have a Library to Run , and my favorite, Dewey’s Job Description (#1 of which is “Reducing stress for all humans who pay attention to him”). Readers can have their own stress level reduced by this wonderful story, which soon could be made into a movie.
This book does raise the question of whether animals should live in libraries. Though I think the advantages could be many (as in Dewey’s case), some serious issues would need to be considered. The cat or other animal would need to prove that they were suited for the library. Many people have severe allergies that would make it difficult for them to patronize a library if a cat was around. Some libraries might not have enough space to adequately care for a cat. For the library of Spencer, Iowa, Dewey was a special case. Any kitten stuffed in a library drop-off box in sub-zero temperatures should have the opportunity to be a library cat. And it is good for us that Dewey was the perfect cat for the job. Highly recommended.
Check the WRL catalog for Dewey: The Small-town Library Cat Who Touched the World