Those of you who have seen my Fall 2008 Dewey Diva presentation have heard me present the heart-warming story of Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat Who Changed the World.
For those who haven't, here's the scoop. Dewey is a must-read book for any cat lover. It is the true story of a little kitten who changed the fortunes of the small farming town of Spencer, Iowa, and warmed the hearts of all who met him. In 1988, early in the morning after one of the coldest nights of the year, head librarian Vicky Myron and her staff discovered a half-frozen kitten in the overnight book drop box of the town's library. The kitten was revived, and despite having severe frostbite, he showed such a love of people and such admirable character that Vicky take a chance and adopted it as the library cat. Not every cat is cut out for such a job, and not every member of the community likes the idea of having a cat living in a library. The library staff held a public contest to name the kitten, and Dewey Readmore Books was the winner by a landslide. Quickly becoming a favourite of many locals, Dewey seemed to know who needed a cuddle, who needed to laugh and would respond to each patron in kind. As his story spread, more and more people started coming to the library. When Dewey's story was picked up by media outlets across the U.S. and Canada, tourists started coming to Spencer. A film crew came all the way from Japan to film Dewey's antics.
The book is packed with cute cat anecdotes, but it is also the story of Vicky Myron's life- her struggle to survive health problems, an alcholic husband, and later as a divorced single mother on welfare. It is also the story of a small farming community devastated by the farming crisis of the 1980's, when many small struggling family farms were bought up by big corporations who turned huge tracts of land into mega-farms. When Dewey was first adopted, many locals were out of work and in danger of losing their homes. Dewey's presence helped keep the town spirit alive and eventually, in part because of the tourists, new businesses opened and helped to revive the town's economy. I'd definitely recommend keeping tissues at hand while reading this book.
According to the November 13th edition of Variety, actress Meryl Streep has signed on to play Vicky Myron in the New Line Cinema film that is in the works. I imagine that it will be much harder to cast the role of Dewey. There have been numerous 'Dewey Look-Alike' contests on blogs, but I imagine that it will be tough to find a cat 'actor' with the same spunky personality as Dewey. Read the book to find out why!