“The Amazing Hamweenie”
By Patty Bowman; Philomel Books, unpaged
I have known some pretty amazing cats in my lifetime. In fact, I would say that my current cat kids, Gracie and Rooster, rank high on that list of fantastic felines. Gracie, 4 years old and a true spitfire, can switch from angel to demon at the flick of a whisker. Rooster, my senior orange boy, hobbles a bit with arthritis, and really prefers sleeping to playing, but come feeding time, rips around the house like a kitten. They seem happy, but sometimes I wonder, do my furry companions dream of bigger and better things than living in a comfortable house with a middle-aged couple?
Perhaps all kitties have rich fantasy lives like the protagonist of this week's charming picture book, "The Amazing Hamweenie." Hamweenie is no ordinary orange-and-white tabby cat. Sure, he lives in an apartment in a big city, and yes, he sleeps on a pillow in the window, and gets treats and regular brushings. All very ordinary cat activities. But, in Hamweenie's world, these are tortures he is forced to endure.
In his mind, his true calling is to experience grandeur, stardom, and adoration by children all over the world. He could be a magician, or, perhaps a superlative circus performer. Yet, he is thwarted at every turn. He tries to escape his cozy environs by hiding in a school backpack but is soon discovered and made to rest on his soft pillow. In an effort to stay out of sight, he attempts to blend in with the pile of stuffed animals on his young mistress's bed. Instead, she delights in his company by holding a tea party for her real and artificial animal menagerie. Whenever he leaps and pirouettes on tall objects -- he just wants to perfect his acrobatic skills, for Pete's sake! -- someone is always nearby, monitoring and extending an unwelcome rescue.
The abuse this tabby suffers -- forced feedings of turkey-flavored cat vitamins, countless afternoons playing video games and eating bags of fishy snacks -- are an "endless array of horrors and injustice," according to Hamweenie. If only his humans recognized the awesomeness existing right at their feet, he could amaze the entire world! But he will bide his time, putting up with gourmet food, amusing cat toys, and snuggly human laps. Not an easy task for an amazing cat!
So, to all the cat parents reading this column, the next time your whiskered child acts naughty, you may want to give him some slack. He just might be practicing for his debut as "The Most Amazing Cat in the World."
Jan Johnston is the Collection Development Coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.