The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook

The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook

Oona and her little brother Fred loved their cat Zoo (short for zucchini) more than anything, which is why when he gets sick they have to tell a few whoppers and break him out of the vet’s office.  Oona comforts Fred by telling him Zook is only in his fifth of nine lives and then slowly tells him of Zook’s previous lives.

Oona and her brother Fred are worried about their cat Zook, short for Zucchini, when he is at the vet’s.  To help Fred take his mind off the possibility that Zook might not live, Oona tells him Zook is only on his fifth life and then describes the fantastic previous lives the cat has lived. When their mother’s new boyfriend helps them out, he mistakenly promises that Zook will get better.  Oona and Fred discover that their cat has had a charmed life indeed.  This is a good story for cat lovers, children with sick pets, and anyone trying to make sense of the randomness of life. 

218 pages

ISBN: 978-1419701924

Recommended by Alice L. Cyphers, Librarian and Reading Specialist, Pennsylvania, USA


Published in 2012 and awarded SCBWI's Golded Kite Award for Fiction and the Parent's Choice Book Award--GOLD, and now in paperback with a redesigned cover.

Tender, touching, and poignant, yet also funny, quirky, clever, and captivating, The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook is a hugely entertaining read for middle grades.

Storyteller (whopper teller) Oona is intelligent, compassionate, brave and creative. She shares her late father's gift for storytelling and embellishment. Oona takes great care of younger brother Fred. Fred is five and like all young children, asks a lot of questions which Oona happily supplies the answers or "Oona-isms." When their pet Zook goes to the vet, Oona tells Fred not to worry because all cats have nine lives. Zook is really sick; his kidneys are failing, but Oona refuses to believe the worst. She knows that cats really don't have nine lives, but maybe if she keeps telling Fred that they do, it will come true.

Oona misses her father  but keeps his spirit alive through her carefully thought-out stories rife with great storytelling words--words like, "...faraway, woe, befall, whence and by and by." Her stories take place in magical kingdoms and involve talking animal that can save kingdoms. Fred believes all of Oona's stories and she revels in sharing them with him. Readers will love Oona. Her voice is unique and original, intelligent and intuitive, and she tells awesome stories!

I was prepared not to love this book. No cat lover myself--I have ten rescue dogs at home--I was not so sure I would heart a book about a cat. This book has forever changed my mind. It's not about the pet that matters; it's all about the love a child feels for that pet, and Oona loves her Zook. The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook will make readers laugh and cry. It is a heartfelt story of love and loss, pain and remembrance.

Highly, highly recommended grade 4-up and for anyone who has ever loved a precious pet.

Recommended by:  Pamela Thompson, Librarian, Texas USA

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I loved this book!  Oona is the big sister to Fred, and together they are getting through the sadness and uncertainty of their beloved cat Zook (short for zucchini) being ill and in the animal hospital.  To keep Fred's mind off Zook's illness, Oona makes up stories to tell him about Zook's other lives so far.  She tells Fred stories in much the same way that her dad, who died of cancer, used to tell stories to Oona.  Her stories are always excellent and they always involve some sort of puzzle, usually a rebus puzzle that Oona starts and lets Fred finish.  Other characters are very important to the story.  Oona's and Fred's mom, a single parent,  is having a hard time keeping the family happy.  Then there's Dylan (rhymes with villain, says Oona), who becomes a major part of the story in more than one way.  Zook's life has been a mystery and his future is unclear, Oona is keeping a secret, and the whole neighborhood comes together in friendship.  This book is one I won't forget for a very long time!

 Recommended by:  Marcia Boatwright, Librarian, Florida USA

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