Marion Dane Bauer has written literally dozens of books for all ages, but I think I like the animal stories she writes for intermediate readers best. Probably not a surprise coming from me. Filled with sweet characters and messages, Bauer’s free verse narrative is a quick and darling tale. Patches, a calico cat, is looking for a special place. She already has a home and a girl who loves her, but feeling driven, she takes advantage of a loose screen and follows her instinct to find that place. After experiencing confusion, danger and hunger, Patches feels certain her special place is, ironically, in a yard occupied by a dog. Gus is not any dog. He’s equally foul-tempered and foul-smelling and is feared by local residents, both animals and people. Despite his reputation, Patches gives in to hunger and enters Gus’ yard, settles in and finally understands why she needs a special place. She gives birth to three kittens and, aftter awhile Gus becomes their protector. But Patches now has to find her way home and deal with Gus’ attempt to keep Patches and her kittens all for himself. The supporting cast of neighborhood animals, from mice to squirrels, are as cute as can be, offering their skills and wisdom. The humans play minor roles and that’s just how it should be. The animals in this story teach us humans about kindness, lonliness and love. What could be sweeter? Well, maybe a cup of hot chocolate, a blanket and this book.
By Marion Dane Bauer
Acclerated Reader Level 4.7
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