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The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook by Joanne…

The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook

by Joanne Rocklin

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For cat lovers especially, this story is of Oona, an older sister desperately trying to protect her younger brother from the harsh realities of life, through the inventive telling of whoopers and lies. All the while putting on a brave face instead of grieving over the death of their father, Oona tries to find redemption in the adoption (some would say abduction) of a bb-bullet riddled cat, christened Zook. When Zook suddenly gets sick, can Oona spin a lie that will not only give comfort to her brother, but help save Zook's life? ( )
  Mad.River.Librarian | Apr 23, 2014 |
***Listened to audiobook***

Recommended Ages: Gr. 4-7

Plot Summary: Oona has a lot of problems. She is responsible for taking care of Fred, who is still having a hard time getting over the loss of their dad. She's teaching him to read, and also telling him stories about the first five lives of their beloved cat, who is in the vet hospital. While working for Mario and Maria, Fred and Oona earn money from the people walking by. Their mom seems to be interested in Dylan, AKA the Villian, whom Oona is convinced is the one that previously owned their cat. That's another problem: she's living with a big secret. When she found Zook in the alley, she took off the tag with the address of his owner and pretended it didn't exist because she was appalled someone would let Zook go, plus she was concerned about the the BB gun pellet stuck in Zook's skin. Suddenly though, it all seems like too much. Will Oona's problems work themselves out?

Setting: city with alleys

Oona - has a Secret Love who doesn't notice her, storyteller, rebus-maker, and whopper teller like her dad
Zook - AKA Zucchini, has 26 toes, meows loudly
Fred - doesn't want to eat often after his dad died, learning to read with the rebus' that Oona makes,
Mom - AKA Terri
Dad - died from cancer two years ago
The Villian - AKA Dylan, lives in the same apartment as Mud's owner
Mario and Maria - owners of O'Lear's Pizzeria, hire Oona and Fred to sing and dance to gain customers
Riya - Oona's friend, lives in the same building, half Indian and half Swedish, inspiration for Oona's theory of multie-culties
Gramma Dee - speaks Yiddish sometimes, friends with Riya's grandmother, lives nearby and frequently babysits
Phin - used to live in Dylan's apartment, owner of Mud, plays in a band

Recurring Themes: Rebus, lies, band, family, garden, loss, learning to read, gardening

Controversial Issues: none that I remember

Personal Thoughts: I think this book has a lot of personality in the writing, but I didn't like the reader of the audiobook. She paused in awkward places as she was reading the story and made it seem slower. I'm not sure if I would have liked it if I read it.

Genre: realistic fiction

Pacing: slow, no narrative arc and there isn't one big problem in the story, but as you continue you learn of a bunch of little problems
Characters: well developed

Activity: whoppers (types of lies) each one has a different color, teaching someone how to read ( )
  pigeonlover | Jan 15, 2014 |
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for my father
First words
Our cat's named Zucchini, and we call him Zook, but that's not the most important thing about him.
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Disambiguation notice
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Book description
(from the back of the book) Oona and her brother, Fred, love their cat Zook (short for Zucchini) more than anything, which is why when he gets sick, they have to tell a few whoppers so they can break him out of the vet's office and take him home.  To keep Fred from worrying, Oona tells him that Zook has only used five of his nine lives, and then makes up stories about Zook's previous lives.  Oona's stories are inspired by those told by their father, who died two years before.

Each of Zook's lives has echoes in Oona's own family life, which is going through some ups and downs.  Her mother has started a relationship with a man named Dylan - whom Oona secretly calls "the Villain."  But Oona's whoppers can't hide the truth about Dylan and the fate of Zook.
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As ten-year-old Oona and younger brother Fred conspire to break their sick cat Zook out of the veterinary clinic, Oona tells the story of Zook's previous lives.

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