Monday, May 16, 2011

Bibliophile's Corner

Whittington
by Alan Armstrong

Flap Copy description:
Bernie keeps a barn full of animals the rest of the world has no use for - two retired trotters, an overly enthusiastic rooster, some banty hens, and a Muscovy duck with clipped wings known as Lady. The Lady is pretty much the Law, and so, when the cat who calls himself Whittington shows up one day, it is to the Lady that he makes an appeal to secure a place in the barn. "Why don't you just take it?" she asks him. From the looks of him, he's one tough customer. "Because," the cat explains, "I want to be part of the talking."
     Bernie's orphaned grandkids, Abby and Ben, come to the barn to help feed the animals. Eight-year-old Ben, Abby says with "the worry of love," is not reading well. Whittington and the Lady decide that Abby should give Ben lessons in the barn.
     It is a balm for Ben when, having toughed out the daily reading tutorial, Whittington comes to tell, in tantalizing installments, the story handed down to him from his nameless forebear, Dick Whittington's cat. It is the legend of the lad born to poverty in rural England during the Black Death, who runs away to London, where he has heard the streets are paved with gold. In London he discovers a world of excitement and opportunity and, of course, the cat who brings him fortune and riches beyond his wildest imaginings.

My thoughts:
The author, Alan Armstrong, uses the cat, Whittington, to weave together his narrative between the life of Bernie's barn animals, and the life of Richard Whittington of London, England in the late 1300's. Although these two seemingly unrelated story lines take a while to mesh; when they do it's utter poetry. Mr. Armstrong is a gifted storyteller; his text is creative, unique, and heartwarming. This book falls under two categories: animal fantasy, and historical fiction - something for everyone!

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