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Grade 4-6–Named for the seven digits on each of his four feet, Toes is a highly intelligent kitten, and so different from his siblings that they reject him. His mother dies mysteriously, and he flees the house to escape his siblings' torments. After a grim, lonely period trapped in a basement, he moves in with a sad violinist who auditioned for the local orchestra several times but was not accepted. Their friendship develops and culminates in Toe's act of great heroism: he makes a dangerous journey to Philharmonic Hall, steals the conductor's prized baton, and leads the woman back to Sebastian's home, where she hears him play and offers him a job. Now old and near death, and not wanting his human friend "to find his corpse and get depressed," Toes drags himself to his mother's grave and dies on his seventh birthday. Small, black-and-white sketches of the cat in different poses begin each chapter. Unfortunately, this lugubrious fantasy requires a huge suspension of disbelief and a willingness to overlook internal inconsistencies and unexplained plot aspects (cats and mice can converse, but birds cannot; Toes is unable to read words but "thanks to all the sports he'd watched" he understands written birth and death dates; no explanation is given for why all of the cats in the story die at age five to seven). Despite much drama and pathos, Toes keeps his distance and readers will find him difficult to cuddle up to.–Susan Patron, Los Angeles Public Library
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Gr. 4-6. It's no wonder that the kitten is named "Toes"; he was born with seven of them on each foot! And it's no wonder-- since he's different--that his siblings callously shun him. Left to his own devices, Toes discovers a "magic window" (readers will recognize it as a television set) that becomes his de facto teacher, helping him understand human ways and language. His knowledge stands him in good stead when a mean-spirited prank by his siblings renders him lost and alone. He's not lonely for long, however; he discovers a new home with another outsider, a young musician whose life Toes changes. Though a bit slower paced and less richly imagined than some of Seidler's earlier books, this wryly amusing title still offers many delights and diversions (Toe's ingenious efforts at surviving in a human world). Best of all, however, is its stirring celebration of the power--and incalculable value--of selfless friendship. Michael Cart
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.