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The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook by Joanne Rocklin
Published by Amulet Books
Pages: 240
Ages: Middle Grade
Buy It: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Powell’s Books | Indiebound | Book Depository
Publishers Summary:

In this warmhearted middle-grade novel, Oona and her brother, Fred, love their cat Zook (short for Zucchini), but Zook is sick. As they conspire to break him out of the vet’s office, convinced he can only get better at home with them, Oona tells Fred the story of Zook’s previous lives, ranging in style from fairy tale to grand epic to slice of life. Each of Zook’s lives has echoes in Oona’s own family life, which is going through a transition she’s not yet ready to face. Her father died two years ago, and her mother has started a relationship with a man named Dylan—whom Oona secretly calls “the villain.” The truth about Dylan, and about Zook’s medical condition, drives the drama in this loving family story.

Oona is proud to take over the reigns from her father as the new “whopper/story-teller”. Since his death the thing that has kept her family together have been the whopers she tells her little brother Fred about their unique cat Zook, who now happens to be on his fifth life. Unfortunately for Oona when her whoppers blur from fun stories to elaborate untruths, including one about Zook’s origins that includes details about the “villain” in her stories, she struggles to keep them all straight. Don’t most stories have a happily ever after? Oona begins to wonder exactly that as she slowly reveals the truth about Zook and begins to heal from the loss of her father.

The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook by Joanne Rocklin was an incredibly enjoyable read. So much so that I’ve also been reading it aloud to the Turkeybird. He’s about halfway through and keeps begging for more, which is wonderful. In many ways I’ve actually enjoyed reading it aloud to him more than quietly reading it by myself. This is a story that is filled with layers of meaning and lessons that could be poured over for hours, but at the same time enjoyable enough to read quickly in a few hours.

As I mentioned, there are so many layers to The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook. One of which is the theme of imagination, creativity and storytelling. Oona is a master storyteller! Her stories about Zook and his other “lives” span ages and are so amazingly creative that you can’t help but be transported to another place as she tells them. It’s definitely inspiring to young readers and my own little storyteller, Turkeybird, has been making up his own new stories based on the things he learned from his interview with Joanne.

One of the aspects of Oona’s storytelling are her use of rebuses. I’m terrible at them (the puzzles made of pictures and letters to spell words, watch the trailer below to see a few!), but it’s been fun to share with Turkeybird because he really enjoys the challenge of making the right discovery. It’s also one of the ways that Oona teaches her brother to read! What was so wonderful about Oona’s use of them is that it opens your eyes to the possibilities surrounding teaching children to read using a variety of techniques rather than just a simple, straight forward approach that can often get boring.

Now, I’d obviously be missing quite a lot of the story if I didn’t mention Oona’s “whoppers”. Whoppers are lies and/or stories, but she uses a color coded scale to determine their “damage”. It’s actually a topic you don’t see addressed head-on in many books and not only did Rocklin handle it quite well she also incorporated it into the story in such a way that young readers will absolutely be able to relate to. As the story gets closer to it’s conclusion Oona discovers just how difficult even small little yellow whoppers can lead to big problems, which is a fantastic lesson for everyone to learn, adults included.

The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook by Joanne Rocklin is a story of loss, creativity and love. Layer upon layer you learn about this adorable cat Zook and his very loving owners. Not only did I enjoy reading The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook, but Turkeybird is enjoying it as well. I’m positive I’m leaving something out of my review, but I’ll just say that I fell in love with Oona and her little brother Freddy as they came up with their own whoppers on their path to a happily ever after. Do you believe in happily ever afters? And what about magic? Joanne Rocklin will have you rethinking your idea of both as you enjoy the story(ies) found within The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook.

The1stdaughter Recommends: Ages 5 to 14. Storytelling, creativity, love and magic await readers as they learn about the power our words have on all who hear them.

Activity Kit for The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook (opens directly to PDF)


Thanks to the publisher and author I have the wonderful opportunity of offering one copy of The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook by Joanne Rocklin for giveaway! Thank you! Be sure to fill out the form below to enter and for more details (comments will not be accepted as entries). Good luck!

Find The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook by Joanne Rocklin at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Powell’s Books | Indiebound | Book Depository | Goodreads

Thank you so much to the publisher, Amulet Books and the author, Joanne Rocklin, for providing a copy of this book for review! Connect with them on Twitter and on Facebook!
Purchasing products by clicking through the links in this post will provide us a modest commission through our various affiliate relationships.

2 Responses to Book Review and Giveaway: The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook by Joanne Rocklin

  1. Sylvia says:

    Thank you for the wonderful review and the information of the giveaway.

  2. PragmaticMom says:

    I’d love to win; sounds like a great read.

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