Bonnie Gayle's Reviews > Whittington

Whittington by Alan Armstrong
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Mar 14, 08

bookshelves: childrens, historical-fiction, reviewed, library-books
Read in March, 2008

Well, I usually agree with the Newberry Award Winners, but I felt this one missed the mark by a mile.

The information inside the cover said that it was about a cat that is new to a barn. He is a descendant of Dick Whittington's cat, and as the long cold winter goes on, he tells all the animals in the barn the story of Whittington and his cat.

This sounded interesting, and at the core, was what the book was about, but this book suffered from too many cooks in the kitchen. That's not the right saying. What I mean is that there was too much stuff going on to make the story a clear cohesive one. All of a sudden, there's a boy who can't read, and there are kids talking to the animals, and some people can't talk to them, but it's not explained, and it was all too much.

The author should have chosen one story and stuck to that. Either tell the story of a boy who has difficulty reading, and how he learns to read. You could tell the author had some unresolved issues about the subject, because it was written angrily. It would be good for kids who are struggling readers to read about a boy who is a struggling reader, but struggling readers couldn't read the book because the vocabulary was WAY too advanced, ex: emnity (I don't even know what it means!).

Or tell the story of Dick Whitington, through a modern day cat as story teller. This is what really frustrated me. The cat says at the beginning that it isn't fair that everyone knows Dick Whittington's name, but no one knows the cat's name, but even though the story has been passed down to him through the generations, he NEVER says the cat's name! I would have prefered if the focus could have been on this story thread, because I found Whittington's ocean journeys interesting, and if it could have been done more thoroughly it would have made a good book.

That's my major issue, but there were other issues that were smaller, such as the chapter endings were way too abrupt, and the subject matter was sometimes too advanced for the intended audience, including topics like constipation, and how horses are made into dog food.
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