Muse du Jour

My name is Marianne Plumridge. I am an artist of mythic fantasy works and fine art images. I also satisfy my creative muse with sewing, cooking, writing and reading. These are my thoughts and adventures with whichever muse drives me each day. You can find more of my art at www.marianneplumridge.com

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Location: New England, United States

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

IF DINOSAURS LIVED IN MY TOWN....Our New Book

I have been remiss in posting about this, but last year my first ever children's picture book was published. I wrote it, my husband, Bob Eggleton painted all of the dinosaurs, and Cortney Skinner digitally inserted those images into meticulously researched photographic backgrounds. All of this was done in 2007 via Hollan Publishing and we were thoroughly happy with all that we had accomplished with this project. Unfortunately, the original publisher that the book was destined to be published by changed editorial management and a whole lot of books were dropped from their schedule, including ours. For a long time our book was kept on offer in case another publisher wanted to pick it up and publish it and we all kept our fingers crossed. Well, that finally happened last year and the final product was truly worth the wait....


"...Imagine a town where dinosaurs never went extinct. What would you do? Would you frantically run away and hide under your bed? Or, would you have a hamburger-eating contest with a Tyrannosaurus rex; go fishing with a Rhamphorhynchus; or travel through space with a Coelophysis? The possibilities are endless!
Can you guess which dinosaur would be a crossing guard, a babysitter, or a circus star? Presenting enjoyable, quirky scenarios led by lovable but gigantic creatures, readers of all ages will surely be whisked away to a world where a Stegosaurus, Velociraptor, and Leaellynasaura are merely your friendly neighbors. Marianne Plumridge includes insightful facts about your favorite dinos, which complement Bob Eggleton's vivid and imaginative illustrations to create a thrilling experience for kids and parents to enjoy. Prepare to enter a world ruled by dinosaurs and humans alike!"

  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Hardcover: 56 pages
  • Publisher: Sky Pony Press; 1 edition (November 6, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1626361762
  • ISBN-13: 978-1626361768
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 10 x 0.5 inches 

Our first review was from Publisher's Weekly....

http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-62636-176-8

We got a nice mention on this list of dinosaur books for young readers, and sharing space with the ever talented Jane Yolen...
http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865597899/Young-readers-really-dig-dinosaur-books.html?pg=all


Another lovely review....
http://www.ctparent.com/bookshelf/14-01-bookshelf.htm


This is a really cute video review of our book, passed along by our publisher.... This is Liam and he is a self-professed dinosaur expert.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/brilliant_one/11875525686/
 


One of the places where people can buy the book online.... AND read the nice reviews a few people have left us...
http://www.amazon.com/If-Dinosaurs-Lived-My-Town/dp/1626361762/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1396207796&sr=1-1&keywords=if+dinosaurs+lived+in+my+town
 



And if you want to keep up with what's happening with our book, news, reviews and soon-to-be-added downloadable worksheets and coloring-in pages for parents, teachers and librarians, please visit the IF DINOSAURS LIVED IN MY TOWN Facebook page...
https://www.facebook.com/IfDinosaursLivedinMyTown

I hope you enjoy our book as much as we enjoyed creating it. Please feel free to leave anecdotes or comments about our book here or on our Facebook page, or just talk to us about it.
Thanks again for stopping by,
Cheers,
Marianne



Monday, July 18, 2011

If You Lived Here: The Top 30 All Time Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Worlds....nominate now!!




The project, authored and edited by Jeff VanderMeer, is called If You Lived Here: The Top 30 All Time Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Worlds. It's a compendium, of sorts, but also a travel guide to places like Dune, Ring World, Middle Earth, Lankhmar . . . and beyond . . . We've all lived in these places--in imagination if not in fact--and we're all united by our common experiences of them. We wanted to collect the worlds together in one place as both a walk down memory lane and a place to start new dreams. 

Underland Press is reaching out to readers, writers, and booksellers to ask for nominations of worlds to include. They've set up a web form at www.ifyoulivedherebook.com, which takes the nominations and asks respondents to describe what they love about the world. (If things go according to plan, they'll include some of the responses in the book itself.) They're looking for as much community involvement as possible in this project. I've already nominated the three old favourites that I've been reading for decades and still make me feel warm and fuzzy. Many of you will like more recent offerings I haven't even caught up with yet. It will all be welcome. I'm looking forward to reading the book that comes of this survey, to revisit familiar settings and see if I get inspired by newer ones described therein.

To visit the Underland Press website: www.underlandpress.com/

Jeff VanderMeer:  www.jeffvandermeer.com/




Cheers,
Marianne

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

LITTLE FUZZY/FUZZY NATION…A Comparative Review

Little Fuzzy...and...Fuzzy Nation

BE WARNED - SPOILERS BELOW!!
 
LITTLE FUZZY
By H. Beam Piper
©1962














FUZZY NATION
By John Scalzi © 2011
TOR Books; Hardcover;
 ISBN: 978-0-7653-2854-0;
301 Pages; USD $24.99







 A book review and comparison by Marianne Plumridge


One thing about the works of H.Beam Piper, they have never been long neglected in print, especially the beloved LITTLE FUZZY books. Since the first book, LITTLE FUZZY, was published in 1962, it and its sequels have been resurrected, repackaged, and reprinted each decade for a new audience. However it was only a matter of time before another author decided to add his ideas to the pantheon in the new millennium. Ardath Mayhar had already done so with GOLDEN DREAM in 1983, so it wasn’t a great stretch when author John Scalzi decided to write his FUZZY NATION. The difference lies in the fact that FUZZY NATION isn’t so much an addition to the works of Piper, but a whole ‘re-imagining’ of the first Fuzzy book to bring it up to date nearly four decades after the first one was published.

I have reacquainted myself with H.Beam Piper’s LITTLE FUZZY books every few years or so because they are unapologetically a nostalgic, endearing, as well as a decidedly funny return to the golden age of science fiction. Sure, the technology is a little outmoded due to progress in recent decades, some of the characters perhaps a mite quaint, the slang largely outdated, and the lifestyle and mannerisms firmly fixed in the 1950/60s along with the once popular but now antiquated ‘cocktail hour’, but the story still holds its charm. Humans have expanded to other worlds to explore and mine and have rarely encountered sentient life. The appearance of a family of diminutive golden haired ‘animals’ that prove more human than some of the humans they meet up with throw a huge spanner in the main Corporate works. Are they sentient or not? A deadly struggle of proof ensues until a Colonial Court settles the matter once and for all. Above it all, in Piper’s book, the Fuzzies are front and center and have distinct personalities – completely coming alive as an innocent, childlike species within the story. They share the lead with the main human protagonist, Jack Holloway because the story is about both humans and Fuzzies and one of the warmest, funniest, first contact stories in the annals of science fiction. Even after all of these years, the arguments on sapience, the subplots and inter-character relationships are still strong and based on a solid plot. LITTLE FUZZY remains a captivating story.

In John Scalzi’s FUZZY NATION, the fundamentals are the same, but there is a narrower cast of characters and focus, where the Fuzzies almost appear to take second place to the human action. The character of Jack Holloway is very much the protagonist of this book as well as the ‘devil’s advocate’. He doesn’t believe that the Fuzzies are sentient: somewhat contrary to Piper’s Holloway. It does make for a more layered character though, that a modern audience will appreciate. Some may miss the extensive layered, engaging antics that Piper’s Fuzzies got up to, and their learning process as the plot of his book progresses. The Fuzzies ‘presence’ in FUZZY NATION isn’t quite the same and personally feels a bit lacking in ‘character presence’. In LITTLE FUZZY there are eighteen Fuzzies creating mayhem by the time the reader reaches the climax, in FUZZY NATION there is a constant of only five majorly interactive Fuzzies for most of the story. In LITTLE FUZZY, the Fuzzies are constantly learning and using what they learn: this creates the bonds between them and the humans that study them – or in some humans who have other agendas, an antithesis and antagonism. In FUZZY NATION, the Fuzzies who arrive at John Holloway’s treetop camp already have a secret that isn’t revealed until much later. Two of the major revelations, including the Fuzzies’ secret are revealed in sudden, almost unheralded ‘bombshells’, and I for one had to think about them a bit before continuing to read. The hearing range of humans doesn’t encompass the supersonic or subsonic, so they couldn’t hear speech until Scalzi’s Jack Holloway had an instant of enlightened perception, developed that idea ‘off camera’, and then suddenly presented it as a fait accompli at the preliminary ‘sapience/non-sapience’ hearing for the Fuzzies. Further to that, and adding another shock, was the Fuzzies extensive understanding of human speech: that had a few hints along the way, plus a puzzle for Scalzi’s Holloway to work out. He does, and presents it just as abruptly as the previous revelation. It underscores just how independent the Fuzzies are…and that in and of itself is very, very different to Piper’s original portrayal of those little people. It will be interesting to see how this is received by fans and readers of the original LITTLE FUZZY book.

Another addition to the character list in FUZZY NATION is Jack Holloway’s dog, Carl. That fact that most of the other characters in the novel like Carl better than they like Jack is a running joke throughout the story. Carl is also a furry plot device that the author uses as a link to connect Jack to other characters. So we read a lot of Carl’s reactions to a variety of his master’s actions as well as reacting to the Fuzzies. That interaction inevitably leads to Jack making some latent discoveries regarding his new found friends. I really like Carl as a character, even if he is only a dog. However, I fear that some of Carl’s cuteness and personality has detracted a little from the Fuzzies cuteness in the novel, or at least competes with it somewhat. Perhaps the author sought a combination of Carl/Fuzzy shared cuteness as a suitable counterpoint for the very cute original Fuzzies in Piper’s book. It does seem to work very well in the context of Scalzi’s book.

Meanwhile, I thoroughly enjoyed John Scalzi’s FUZZY NATION and consider it to be a wonderful addition to the Little Fuzzy canon. It is fast paced, witty, and cleverly plotted. Scalzi’s Jack Holloway is something of a complex antihero at times and the reader, let alone other characters are never quite sure what he’s going to do or say next. His actions are quite devastating in delivery and ultimately satisfying. This is a book very much worth reading.

Marianne Plumridge

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Friday, May 06, 2011

A Woman of Mars: The Poems of an Early Homesteader...A Book Review


A WOMAN OF MARS:                          The Poems of an Early Homesteader

by  Helen Patrice

Stanza Press/PS Publishing
Grosvenor House, 
1 New Road, 
Hornsea HU18 1 PG, England; 
Hardcover;
ISBN: 978-1-848631-32-8; 
f14.00 GBP; 36 pages; 2011


Reviewed by Marianne Plumridge – May 2011

I had the good fortune to read “A Woman of Mars” in manuscript form two years ago. And upon rereading it now as a fully fledged anthology, I am still as riveted by the words and their vision as I was then. The author has written about a young woman who dreamed of the stars in childhood, only to step forward and volunteer as a colonist for the first push outwards to Mars. Never antiseptic, but with a bare minimum of prose, Ms Patrice vivifies the psychological pressures, the physical demands, and the emotional responses of her protagonist and the tiny colony as a whole. Risk, regret, hope, and more are washed with the very gritty red sands of Mars in this stark, but not bleak, telling. A first reading of this cycle of poems will leave the reader gripped by the story unfolding and the stories not told but sensed in between. Arrival, settlement, birth, death, psychosis, loss, living, existing, new myth and mysteries, survival, starvation, and testament to humanity all flow within these poems as humankind try to carve out a life for themselves and others on an unutterably alien world…where the word for green might almost be forgotten...

When Ray Bradbury read “A Woman of Mars: The Poems of an Early Homesteader” in manuscript form, he stated:

“Helen Patrice’s poems are little love letters not only to the Red Planet but also to the sense of alien wonder that is so often missing from imaginative fiction and poetry. Bravo to her! And bravo to Stanza Press for providing a platform for her work!”

A Woman of Mars is a slim volume of 34 poems told in chronological order about the first colony on Mars. The covers are Mars red augmented with drawings by Bob Eggleton. Upon opening the front cover, is found a gem of a watercolour painting acting as ‘Red Mars’ end papers. Inside the back cover is another, different painting depicting ‘Green Mars’ after the beginning of terra-forming. Eggleton’s drawing is nicely reused throughout as page edging and spot illustrations.

If I had one thing to contribute to a pioneer settlement reaching out for Mars, it would be this book. For each and every new venture has to have had an initial dream or vision to build upon to reach its goal. A Woman of Mars would be a very favourable start…

Marianne Plumridge

PS: Okay, there's a bit of nepotism here...my husband, Bob Eggleton, did the illustrations. :-D



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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"Hard Magic"....a Book Review

HARD MAGIC 
Book 1: 
Paranormal Scene Investigations

By Laura Anne Gilman

May 2010; Luna Books 
(www.luna-books.com).
Trade Paperback 
(ISBN: 13:978-0-373-80313-2); 
329 pages;  Price $14.95

Reviewed by Marianne Plumridge – January 2011


Bonita Torres is a magic user, a Talent, born to an itinerant Lonejack father and brought up and mentored by a member of the Council. She is both and neither. One of Bonnie’s feet is still in the world of lone wolf magic users and their sense of wild justice, while the other is firmly within the community of ‘Council’ with all of their ambiguous elite rules and mores. It’s very easy to feel like an outsider. However, three months out from college graduation with a good resume and a bag full of mixed talent and some unusual experiences using such, isn’t getting her anywhere. J, her Mentor, had been paying for her studies and upkeep since she was 8 years old, but Bonnie is itching to prove herself, stand on her own two feet, and find her own life. Unfortunately, of all the resumes and interviews she’d sent out or been on, nobody else seemed to know what to do with her either. Frustrated, panicky and feeling out of sorts in the Big Apple, Bonnie receives a voicemail message that sounds…interesting. It wasn’t anyone she’d contacted about a job…but they firmly indicated that she should come for the interview anyway. Trying to scrye for some information about the forthcoming encounter leaves her with a pounding heart and shattered crystal all over her hotel bed, the loud ‘No Cheating’ rebuke still ringing in her skull.

Four disparate personalities await Bonnie at THE interview and she’s somewhat disappointed to find competition in the offing. But nothing is what it appears at first glance and neither are the Talented rivals. Pietr, a decorative young man who smells like trouble and can fade out at will; Sharon, an elegant, blond paralegal who can detect even the whiff of a lie and becomes the on the spot paramedic when needed; Nick “Nifty” Lawrence, a gifted footballer who would prefer to use his brains and Talent rather than brawn; and the other Nick, the one whose demeanor screams ‘nerd’ who has his own strange gift of ‘hacking’. All have personality issues and attitudes, all are far deeper and more complicated than their surface facades suggest. Working together is not going to be easy.

The interviewer is dead…and that is the first test. The five twenty-something kids are hired en masse as a unit for something called P.U.P.I – Private, Unaffiliated, Paranormal Investigations. A team of Talents using magic in a Forensic CSI fashion to collect evidence from death/crime scenes to determine if a crime was committed and if Talent was involved. There has never been anything like it in the recorded history of all mage talented communities, but it is direly needed in spite of denial and sometimes violent opposition. The Talented are dying in mysterious ways that look like suicides or accidents but leave a major question mark that no one – Null or Talent – can answer. Enter P.U.P.I – five fractious “puppies” with secrets and skills of their own, hired, shaped, and lead by two “Guys”: heavyweight Talents, Benjamin Venec and Ian Stoller who are also referred to as ‘the big dogs’ by their protégés. They are not enforcers of any kind, but the creed is to be true to the evidence found and present it to clients and Council alike to be dealt with. What follows for Bonnie, Nick, Nifty, Sharon, and Pietr is a strenuous rollercoaster ride of bootcamp magic learning and stretching that encompasses explosions, implosions, finicky electrical reactions, and blowups strangely reminiscent of ‘Mythbusters’ experimentalism, being shot at, a sibling tantrum of epic proportions, and a professional killer for hire who is as silent and slippery as silk. None of them will ever be the same afterward.

Bonnie hires on in spite of her Mentor’s horrified opposition, both as father figure and leading Council figure. Being a member of P.U.P.I is something that appeals to Bonnie’s sense of ‘making a difference’, hearkening back to the secret hunt for her father’s murderer: something that only she, her Mentor and a cave dragon up in the Adirondacks knows anything about – or so she has always assumed. Unable to see the search through to a natural conclusion of catching and revealing the killer, Bonnie instead had to bury her knowledge along with her frustration. All of the information and evidence of the crime she had gathered – culled inch by agonizing inch – came to naught. There was no way to act on it or take it to any existing enforcement authority that would believe her. The magic using community she belongs to, the Cosa Nostradamus, has no formal way of policing its society. It’s never needed to…till now. Bonnie’s tenacity, dual understanding of both Lonejack and Council sides of the Cosa Nostradamus and her own very real talents, coupled with a strong, innate need to know, working in harness with likeminded others might assuage some of the residual guilt and frustration. It might also fine tune some of those desperation-forged skills from her past and put them to good use. It isn’t easy, it’s bone wearying, mind numbingly hard. And there are consequences and disasters awaiting the missteps and personal mistakes of all of them. Add to that the effect Ben Venec has on Bonnie physically and mentally, and the complications just get weirder. His mental voice is familiar from past events and secrets, and she isn’t sure whether that is coloring her perception of him and the resultant upheavals inside her core and mind.

Bonnie has a remarkably tenacious Talent for detailed recall which is why she finds herself up front and center ‘recording’ things and people who are of interest and whilst investigating crime scenes and objects. Nick, Sharon, Nifty and Pietr have their own unique abilites – just as strong as hers – but it’s up to Ben and Ian to blend them into a coherent, fully integrated synergy. By the end of this story, that binding takes shape under extreme duress: a full on deadly attack from the assassin.

This is a brilliant book by veteran author, Laura Anne Gilman. It is tightly woven and fast paced with crisp, clean language that defines the characters and situations more so than overly-descriptive prose would. Ms Gilman inhabits the Cosa Nostradamus universe she has created with confident depth and wisdom and a creativity that some longtime authors might envy. The character of Bonnie Torres emerged as a secondary player in Ms Gilman’s other Cosa Nostradamus universe series ‘THE RETRIEVERS” only to be given a larger voice and place of her own in this powerful debut to a new series of novels. For a series, it is. The sequel to ‘HARD MAGIC’, ‘PACK OF LIES’, is now available. And I am very much looking forward to reading it. Very well done Ms Gilman…I couldn’t put this book down…

Cheers
Marianne

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Murphy's Lore: Tales From Bulfinches Pub....A Book Review


“MURPHY’S LORE: TALES FROM BULFINCHE’S PUB”

by  Patrick Thomas

Padwolf Publishing; Trade paperback; ISBN: 1-890096-07-5;  $14.00 US
293 pages; 2000

Reviewed by Marianne Plumridge – February 2005
First Published by www.infinityplus.co.uk - 2005


If ever you’re in Manhattan and see a rainbow, follow it to its end. There you will find a place called Bulfinche’s Pub and a sympathetic ear to hear your story – sometimes several. This might not sound so unusual or impressive, until you find out who the owner and employees of the premises really are, let alone the regular clientele. Then the magic begins…

The Murphy of the title is, initially, a lost soul himself who, in the very first story, finds his way to Bulfinche’s by way of a rainbow. Murphy has lost his soul-mate wife to cancer and his will to go on. At Bulfinche’s, he discovers that it is the magical place that his wife found during her last months on the mortal coil, that she could relax and paint and draw in while Murphy was at work. In the end, Murphy stumbles through the same pub door and finds the same thing his love did: a respite, hope, friends, and finally home. Owner and client alike stand in awe when they realize that Murphy’s wife’s last painting was of the very bar and occupants itself: entitled, Rainbow’s End. The painting stands now over the bar.

The subsequent stories in this anthology regale the reader about the Owner and patrons of Bulfinche’s and are narrated by Murphy. However, don’t ever think to presume that you know what’s coming next. The stories are funny, underwritten by a sly sense of humour that could be loosely termed ‘hard-boiled comicalness’ that’s definitely got a New York edge to it. And it’s very entertaining. Underpinning the humor is an intrinsically subtle, but solid psychiatric base. With that combination, I can only say that there are some really interesting twists in these stories. But don’t ever make the mistake that they are simple. These tales linger in the mind for ages after you’ve read them.

Urban fantasy doesn’t really appeal to me as a reader generally, and I began this book with just a little trepidation. There are no fairies – wicked or otherwise – tricking we bumbling humans around New York; no fantasitical warlords that bespeak Manga influences trying to invade the city; or dragons trying to pass as human and seeing us as fodder. No, the employees and patrons of Bulfinche’s Pub have a solid grounding in the multiplicity of history, religion and myth of the human race, but are bound by rules and sometimes curses. The rules and curses are suspended in Bulfinches however, except for the standing rule of ‘no powers to be used’ inside the pub, imposed by the premises’ immortal owner, Paddy Moran. Paddy is a Leprechaun, and only stands out because of his height – or lack of it. His employees include, besides Murphy behind the bar, Dionysus as head brewer and bartender, Hercules mans, or ‘gods’ the door as bouncer, while Demeter runs the kitchen. Other personnel change from time to time. Paddy bought the pub and the building that houses it one hundred years ago with his pot of gold, but he is still required to help people that need it. Therefore whenever a rainbow beacon leads a troubled soul to the door of Bulfinche’s, he, she or it will always find surcease and help.

The best thing about these stories is that they address social issues right along side the whimsical ones. Humankind has always invented Gods, demons, angels of various religions callings, and other spiritual beings over the eons, so it isn’t too surprising to find them a lot like us, with woes like ours, just with a lot more personal power and sometimes even less responsibility.

So come on down to Bulfinche’s Pub. The first drink is on the house…

I really enjoyed this book. Now I have to wait for the next ones to arrive. Didn’t I mention it? There are four more volumes in this series, and look every much as interesting as the first. Happy reading.

Marianne Plumridge


Sunday, October 03, 2010

Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World... A Book Review


DEWEY: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
By Vicki Myron, with Bret Witter

Grand Central Publishing; Hardcover, 
ISBN-10  0-446-40741-0;  $19.99 US
277 pages.
Reviewed by Marianne Plumridge – October 2008


I like reading biographies now and then. I also like reading animal biographies once in a blue moon. Blame ‘The Wonderful World of Disney’ from when I was a kid.

I was reading comments on a mystery writers’ blog when one commenter quipped an aside that caught my attention. She said: “Hey, I just read an advance copy of DEWEY - about the famous library cat. It’s the new MARLEY AND ME.” Or words to that effect. ‘Library’ and ‘Cat’ stood out, so I looked it up. So I’m a sucker for things that happen in libraries…

Anyway, I obtained a copy of the book when it came out this week and read it the same day. The headache following that was well worth it.

Back in Spencer, Iowa, on 18 January 1988, the temperature had dropped to below 15 degrees. The wind made it seem much, much colder. When Public Librarian, Vicki Myron arrived at work that morning, she and a co-worker found something strange in the overnight drop box: a tiny bundle of near frozen fur containing a huge pair of hopeless eyes. Vicki and Jean rescued the poor little kitten and strived to warm it up, since it was too early to call the vet. A warm bath in the sink revealed that the little fellow was actually orange, not grey, and turned out to be a very young long-haired orange tabby cat. On his first hobble (his toes were a bit frostbitten) around the table to introduce himself to the rest of the library staff, the boy kitten melted the hearts of all he met. They called him Dewey and hoped that the Library could keep him.

That was the tricky bit - gaining acceptance of the Library Board of Directors as well as the Mayor, and the majority of the patrons. Things like allergies, asthma, and complaints had to be addressed, since the library was a public place. Vicki did her homework and got medical opinions about all of the health concerns. It turned out that the Spencer Public Library was perfectly built to house both Dewey and the allergy/asthma ridden visitors, so most people were assured. One woman though, whom the library staff never did meet all of the long years that Dewey lived there, wrote a letter of complaint that was pure “…fire and brimstone, full of images of children keeling over from sudden asthma attacks and pregnant mothers spontaneously miscarrying when exposed to kitty litter. According to the letter, I was a murderous madwoman who was not only threatening the health of every innocent child in town, born or unborn, but also destroying the very fabric of the community…” Sad, really.

Dewey himself was perfectly behaved. From kitten-hood onward, he was a calm, friendly people-loving, social cat who wove himself into the fabric of the Spencer community during both good times and bad. And there were bad times and crises. Despite personal problems of her own, Vicki Myron strived to make the Public Library a place for enjoyment as well as help to the many people who needed it. Economic downturn, loss of employment, bankruptcies, etcetera, all took their toll on the rural populace. Vicki created the Job Bank at the Library: a section that contained all the job listings, books on job skills, job descriptions, and technical training, a computer to create resumes and letters, and a caring staff to help them use it all. Dewey’s arrival seemed to help too, although “…Dewey didn’t put food on anyone’s table. He didn’t create jobs. He didn’t turn our economy around. But one of the worst things about bad times is the effect on you mind. Bad times drain you of energy. They occupy your thoughts. They taint everything in your life. Bad news is as poisonous as bad bread. At the very least, Dewey was a distraction…”

But he was so much more. His story resonated with the people of Spencer. His story of survival matched their own. After all, he survived his worst trial, so there was hope for theirs. Dewey’s personality reflected a trust and confidence, but never arrogance, and a sort of serenity that soothed many a burdened or case-hardened heart. A persistent lap sitter, Dewey wormed his furry backside into as many friendships as he did small boxes. The author’s large store of Dewey stories are funny, touching, but never cloying, and reach out to all readers alike. In fact, Vicki purposefully downplays many of Dewey’s antics in comparison to the many larger issues at hand, but his effect can’t help but leave a definitive impression anyway. He was that kind of special cat.

Whether sitting quietly with an autistic child during reading time, stalking laps, playing hide and seek after hours with the staff, volunteering to lend fluffy cuddles and purrs to someone needing comfort, hunting rubber bands to eat, or inspiring hearts, Dewey always gave his best.  Some years into his library residence, people from far away were arriving to visit the Library Cat. He’d been the subject of newspaper articles, a few magazine articles, and radio commentary. Somehow, his existence reached beyond that small Iowa town and stretched all the way to Japan. A camera team and a director subsequently arrived and spent a whole day with Dewey, filming his every move. None of Dewey’s visitors or fans ever went away disappointed. And to some of them, his small furry attendance made a difference in their lives.

This is a lovely book. Something to read on a cold winter night snuggled under a warm rug with a cup of tea or hot chocolate beside you. Or read it at any other time of the year and still be warmed by Dewey’s story and those who loved him…


Marianne Plumridge

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