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The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  1,655 ratings  ·  205 reviews
In this warmhearted middle-grade novel, Oona and her brother, Fred, love their cat Zook (short for Zucchini), but Zook is sick. As they conspire to break him out of the vet’s office, convinced he can only get better at home with them, Oona tells Fred the story of Zook’s previous lives, ranging in style from fairy tale to grand epic to slice of life. Each of Zook’s lives ha ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published April 1st 2012 by Harry N. Abrams
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Average rating 3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,655 ratings  ·  205 reviews

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Molly G
Mar 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Review for my indie bookstore boss from reading the Advance Reader Copy:

How can one children's book contain so many of The Big Difficult Conversations between adults and kids? And how does it manage it with such hope, humor and delight? From the death of a parent, the prospect of a step-parent, the illness of a pet, a child's responsibilities in a community, how siblings and friends can support and teach each other, the many aspects of honesty, even the joy of reading and a bit of ecological awa
Oct 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Ella and I are searching through the library's Overdrive collection for a new audiobook to listen to. She loves cats, so this one's an obvious choice, but... "I dunno, Ella. It looks like it might have a dead cat in it."

"That's ok. Besides," she reasons, "If it's too sad, we can always listen to some Penderwicks afterwards and cheer ourselves up."

True. We are self-medicating bibliotherapists.


I don't know how I missed this one last year, but I'm almost glad I did. If I had read it last year
Wayne Walker
May 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
How would you feel if your pet became very ill? Ten-year-old Oona Armstrong lives in an Oakland, CA, apartment with her mother Terri, five-year-old brother Fred, and their cat named Zook, which is short for Zucchini. Oona and Fred’s dad Max had died two years before from cancer. Nearby is O’Leary’s Pizza where the kids work to help bring customers in and they get to eat fried zucchini, the only vegetable Fred likes—and thus the cat’s name. Now Zook himself has become sick, so Oona comforts Fred ...more
Ms. Yingling
Oct 10, 2012 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oona and Fred have a cat named Zook. Zook is a sick kitty who has to get fluids to help his kidney's function. Oona is teaching Fred to read using rebuses and stories about the past lives of Zook. She is upset that her mom is dating Dylan (the villain) who she thinks is the past owner of Zook. There are misunderstandings, life lessons and big and little whoppers.

I am not sure if I would have felt the same way about this book if I had read it instead of listening to it. But since I listened to i
Jenna Scribbles
Feb 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Teachers, Parents, and Librarians, You Need This Book

Five Stars

For those of you searching for a well-rounded, thorough, imaginative tale, look no further. The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook is a rare book. Lovers of Junie B. Jones will enjoy this story.

Joanne Rocklin takes a multitude of elements and weaves them beautifully throughout this story. Some details are silly, others small, and a few of them matter most. A flower pot, sweatshirt, catmint, secrets, and loving family members with us and tho
Apr 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookclub
Maybe suggest for book club?
May 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: listened-2012
The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook by Joanne Rocklin and read by Georgette Perna turned out to be an absolute treasure of a listening experience.

Synopsis: In this warmhearted middle-grade novel, Oona and her brother, Fred, love their cat Zook (short for Zucchini), but Zook is sick. As they conspire to break him out of the vet’s office, convinced he can only get better at home with them, Oona tells Fred the story of Zook’s previous lives, ranging in style from fairy tale to grand epic to slice of lif
Katie Fitzgerald
Oona and her five-year-old brother Fred are still mourning the loss of their father, who died of cancer, when their cat, Zook (named for his love of zucchini) also falls ill. Determined to protect her brother from any more sadness, Oona tells him that cats have nine lives, and Zook is only on his fifth. Continuing a tradition begun by their father, Oona begins using rebuses to tell Fred stories about Zook's other lives. In the meantime, Oona struggles to deal with the fact that she may have stol ...more
Jen  Bigheart
Feb 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc
Oona and her brother Fred aren't thrilled about their beloved cat Zook (Zucchini) being kept at the vet after an illness. They decide to take matters into their own hands and break the cat out of kitty jail. In order to convince Fred that Zook will get better, Oona tells some pretty tall tales about the previous lives of Zook. Zook has been a Royal Cat among princes and princesses, and a Ghost Cat living with a wretched old woman. Each story reflects Oona and her brother's Fred lives as they try ...more
Apr 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I got this book from someone in administration. I'm not sure, even now, why the ESL administrator sent it to me but it's definitely marked "To Laura Gonzalez".

I'm curious why it was sent to me. I thought maybe the book itself might give me a clue. It doesn't. It's an uncorrected proof so maybe she got it for free and is passing it on. So now I guess I'll have to ask.

In any case, I loved it. There were times when I was really bothered by the adult agendas. I understand that the book is set in Oak
Oct 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Finally a Caudill nominee that ought to win! Oona and her brother Fred are worried about their cat Zook, who is sick at the vet's office. So to make Fred feel better, she starts telling him the stories of all Zook's previous lives. Those are intermingled with all the past and present changes in their own lives - their father's death, their job at a pizza parlor, their friends, their mother meeting someone new, all whirling together to remind the reader of the importance of interconnectedness and ...more
Karen Arendt
This is a beautiful story lover's story. Oona and her brother younger brother, Fred, have a cat named Zook who has been sick. Oona tells Fred how cats have nine lives and Zook is only on his fifth life. Their father died several years ago from a long illness, and now it is just them, Mom and the cat. What Oona has never told anyone is how she found Zook- through less than totally honest means. Oona needs to come to terms with Zook's health, while taking care of Fred (which she claims is one of h ...more
Chelsea Couillard-Smith
Rocklin writes absolutely charming books, and this one is no exception. Oona is a precocious, yet generally authentic child narrator, and her personality dominates the story, but it's a fun personality to spend time with. Most of the adult characters are complex if a little vague, and the plot is a bit serendipitous, though the ending is realistic and satisfying. Oona's world of rebuses, whoppers, and multy-culty urban neighbors is highly enjoyable and easy to fall into, full of love and friends ...more
May 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
What makes cozy novel like this one stay on your mind and in your heart? A narrator with a true and unique voice, rebuses, gardening, pizza, stories within the story, beautiful people that you want in your life, the asking of BIG life questions, and one special cat. Rocklin's writing is invisible in Oona's voice.

Run out and get this book. There are a few moments that I would describe as "hankie required" but don't let that scare you off!

The audio book is awesome!
I was attracted to this because of the awesome, street-art-inspired cover. I hoped it would work for booktalking, but ultimately found it to be a little too soulful for that.

I really liked the Oakland setting, depiction of living within walking distance of familiar businesses. It's really a book more about people than about Zook. And grieving, and transitions.

Sweet, but a handseller in my community.
Dec 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It's a sad ending they have to put down Zook (short for Zucchini, since he loves it fried) , due to his liver failure. The vet said, that he's only going to live for a few day, and suffer the pain if they won't put him to sleep. :(

Apparently, he was abused by the previous owner, and found a bb gun pellet in his body with a cut on his right ear. Thank goodness Oona and her brother loves him very much, and adopted him.
5 comforting chocolate chip cookies.

Cover Love: Yes. I love the colors and the cats. I love how big the title is. It is very eye catching.

Why I Wanted to Read This: I adored One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street also by Joanne Rocklin. I was excited to read this one!

Read the rest of my review here on my blog.
Jan 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ala-2012
A sweet, but not cloying, book about loss and how we cope with it that should be suitable for mid-graders (although I, as an adult, enjoyed it too). The main character is a plucky, humorous, and somewhat unreliable storyteller who learns that her stories can both hurt and help, and also that she isn't always as smart as she thinks she is.
Jennifer Leemhuis-mccally
Jul 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I read this book to my 9 year old son. We both loved it. It was difficult for me to read aloud some of the powerful parts regarding loss. The book is very well-written and I felt like all the characters were developed so well, that they could live next door to us. There is a sense of community in this book with just a few characters. I look forward to reading other books by this author.
Feb 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Oona and her little brother, Fred, are trying to heal after their Father's death. When their old cat, Zook, gets sick they must examine their feelings about death and what happens next. A beautiful book, which I look forward to sharing with children.
Mar 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Oona and Freddy love their old cat Zook, but he is pretty ill, so Oona uses stories to help herself come to grips with the that fact. Wonderful characters, a warm family and set of friends--this book would be a great read-aloud in the middle grades classroom.
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. An amazing tale based around the common "cats have nine lives" myth. The book can be sad, but there are many theories and other things, including mini stories and many other things! Would highly recommend! 😁
May 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
I was tearing up during parts of this...
Barb Middleton
This fun romp involves a cat named, Zook, who meows like a bull horn, "EE-OW! EE-OWEY!" so it be heard above all beings with a pulsating heart. Remember the wild-haired scientist Emmett who loved to shout "Gadzooks!" in the movie, "Back to the Future?" Zook's name makes me think of him and I picture the cat with wild eyes and hair sticking out like porcupine quills. But Zook's name comes from O'Leary's famous fried zucchini that was used to catch him. Yum, yum. Or yuck, yuck depending on your ta ...more
A Tiefenthaler
Dec 17, 2018 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

My 8 year old picked this one out for us to listen to in the car. The narrator talks like a kid since the main character is maybe 8 so it fit well, she did a really good job. We've been saying "Eoww, Eowwy!" like Zook whenever somebody gets hurt. LOL...
It was a good story for animal lovers. Also had good character moments like telling the truth, dealing with the loss of a parent, and enjoying the life you have today.
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved it! I loved the stories within the stories, the details that Oona notices. Now I know that “whoppers” are not only the yummy food that comes from Burger King. :-)

I am glad I bought this book from Biblio, for my eldest daughter and me to read.

It’s about coping with loss and changes in life. About telling lies and the horrible feeling it evokes. About love for family and accepting things that make our family members happy.
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I was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, the land of four distinct seasons. The winters are so long!

Wintry days and nights inspired me to read many, many books, the most important thing a writer can do. Of course other seasons inspired me, too! And as soon as I learned to hold a pencil I began writing poems, stories, and diaries.

I have always owned cats (or they have owned me, a cliché, but true!)
“You get a happy feeling helping someone read. You feel sort of like a wizard.” 4 likes
“Why not"! That is SO wise. So many things would be possible in this world if you thought "Why not?" all day long.” 3 likes
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