In late July, there are several annual art fairs that draw tourists, locals and artisans of all sorts to the city of Marquette.  It was at one of these that I ran into Gretchen Preston, who was selling copies of her book, Valley Cats: The Adventures of Boonie and River.  I introduced myself as a school librarian, and the next thing I knew, she was signing a book to my students and giving it to the school for free!  That was a really magical experience, and “magical” could also describe this book.

Statistics
Checkouts: New to the library
Typical reader: Aimed at upper elementary students but great as a bedtime reader for younger students; cat-lovers are going to enjoy this too.

Synopsis: Boonie and River are two cats that live on Valley Road.  They meet one summer day when their mistresses enter them in a pet parade, become friends, and have all sorts of adventures together.

My Goodreads rating: 5 stars

This book is positively saccharine.  The illustrations by Karin Neumann are lovely, and made me chuckle at times.  They go very well with the stories of the two cats and their adventures.  My favorite might be the one where River falls out of an apple tree onto the dog he was hiding from, as Boonie cowers and covers his eyes in another tree.

The book is broken into chapters, each with a different tale of the mischief Boonie and River get into.  It’s a bit reminiscent of books like Frog and Toad.  This format is great, especially if you’re looking for a short story to read.  I can easily see this book as one for a young elementary student to take home and have his or her parent read a chapter every evening before bed.  There’s also a glossary for words the child might not know.

Some of the adventures are a bit of a stretch of the imagination when one considers these are house-cats – I don’t know any cat who would go swimming – but that’s okay.  The intended audience is going to love these stories because kids have similar experiences as they explore the world around them.

I would like to note that this is the first book in a planned series of four.  According to the web site for Preston Hill Press, the second is currently going to print.

President Barack Obama visited Marquette in February, and he bought this book for his daughters when he stopped for lunch at Donckers Restaurant.  Valley Cats is available throughout the Upper Peninsula and as far south as Traverse City, but anyone can buy it through the online store.

Thank you for the book, Ms. Preston!