It’s a Wonderful Day for Whoppers

“Whoppers are lies plain and simple. Some whoppers are worse than
other whoppers, and those are nothing to be proud of. But some whoppers are stories.” Oona’s a whopper teller extraordinaire. Continuing in the tradition of her deceased dad, she concocts tales to soothe, to inspire, or to entertain her five-year-old brother Fred. It’s a particularly useful skill to hone, now that the siblings are anxious about their beloved, ailing cat Zook (short for “zucchini,” a favorite fried snack they used to lure the stray cat).

As with her charming One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street (reviewed here), Joanne Rocklin has again crafted an engaging novel with authentic characters, a nurturing and diverse neighborhood, and a well-paced plot with just enough conflict to keep readers panting for more.

Perhaps most refreshing about The Five Lives of our Cat Zook is the narrator’s vibrant voice. Ten-year-old Oona, with her keen observation skills, her big, believable emotions; and her robust imagination, will win over many a reader. Those same qualities drive the plot, as they get her in and out of trouble and often result in humorous predicaments.

Oona’s a devoted big sister, using rebuses to teach Fred to read. Building on the whopper that their sick cat is just on his fifth life, she takes her brother to the land of Rebusina, where he hears of Zook’s previous lives. This way, she figures, if Zook doesn’t survive, her brother will think he’ll simply return.

But some whoppers, especially the one involving Zook’s true owner, come back to complicate Oona’s life. Oona begins to realize her imagination can work for good or not-so-good. Her outlandish scheme to kidnap Zook from the vet backfires. Then she has to reconsider her assessment of the guy across the street who’s been paying so much attention to Mom. Is Dylan not a villain after all? Can he be the key to nursing Zook back to health?

This tender novel about relationships, trust, and coping with loss will be wonderful to read aloud to children ages 7 to 10 (as well as a great independent read for ages 9 to 12). For inspiration on how to expand on the reading/listening experience, check out Rocklin’s fine activity kit.

I’M OFFERING a FREE hardback copy of THE FIVE LIVES OF OUR CAT ZOOK to one random U.S. reader who either posts the link to this review on Facebook, tweets it, or becomes a subscriber to my blog. Deadline: JUNE 1. Leave a comment and let me know you’re entering, and I’ll contact the winner on June 2. Good luck!


15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Christa
    May 26, 2012 @ 08:03:00

    I was linked to this blog as part of an assignment for a class I’m taking. I think my daughter would love this book! We are always looking for good books for her, since she reads voraciously. She also likes to read to her little sister. Thanks for the suggestion, hopefully both my girls will enjoy this one!


    • Janice Floyd Durante
      May 29, 2012 @ 20:58:32

      Christa, it’s a lively, warm, and funny novel, and if your daughter likes realistic fiction, I bet she’ll love it. I’m curious about the class you mentioned. Is it a children’s lit, education, or a library science class?
      And are you in for the book giveaway?


      • Christa
        May 30, 2012 @ 09:26:58

        Yes, that’s exactly the kind of books she likes, along with some non-fiction. I would love to be in for the giveaway!

        The class I am in is about online tools for collaboration. We are learning about how to use blogs, wikis, etc. in the classroom so that our students can collaborate online with their peers. We have looked at several examples of each tool, and yours was one we looked at. I have been working on my own reading blog (I teach high school English) if you are interested in checking it out. – it’s not much yet, but I’ve enjoyed it when I’ve had time to write!

  2. Vera Godley
    May 25, 2012 @ 15:22:04

    May 25 Tweet:
    It’s a Wonderful Day for Whoppers via
    @wordpressdotcom #Giveaway @GG_Survey


  3. Joanne Rocklin
    May 24, 2012 @ 22:30:21

    Thanks so much, Janice! I’m honored by your insightful review.


  4. Vera Godley
    May 24, 2012 @ 21:04:27

    following via email


  5. Vera Godley
    May 24, 2012 @ 21:03:17

    Shared on Twitter:
    It’s a Wonderful Day for Whoppers via @wordpressdotcom #Giveaway @GG_Survey
    godleyv at yahoo [dot]com


  6. Vera Godley
    May 24, 2012 @ 21:02:46

    shared on Facebook:
    godleyv at yahoo ]dot[ com


  7. Heidi Grange
    May 24, 2012 @ 13:14:25

    I’ve become a follower by email. I look forward to enjoying your blog!


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