CATCALL by Linda Newbery

December 16, 2008 at 12:56 am Leave a comment


Change is difficult, even when done with care. Josh and Jamie, two brothers, undergo major changes when their parents divorce; their mother remarries; there is a new baby; and their biological father moves into a new girlfriend’s house who also has a son. Josh, the older brother, tells this story and seems able to negotiate the changes with an appropriate amount of annoyance, good humor, and nonchalance. His younger brother Jamie, about nine years old, is less adaptable. When the family goes to a wildlife zoo, Jamie becomes transfixed by the sight of a lion that prowls the enclosure while protecting a lioness and her cubs. Jamie draws a mask of the lion in school but then suddenly stops talking. At home he only speaks in s stunted way as though the lion has taken possession of him. Josh, a keen observer of cats, has in inkling that the zoo experience in someway has traumatized Jamie and that only he can restore his brother. The story includes a description of cats from the scientific to the mythological. The relationship of the brothers, dads, baby, friends, and the family cat gets interwoven into a satisfying psychological mix of cat whisperer meets urban English family. Newbery injects the right amount of mystery with the ups and down of family life to make this a good book for middle grades.


Recommended, Lillian Hecker-Pelham



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