Title: The Cats in the Doll Shop
Author: Yona Zeldis McDonough
Illustrator: Heather Maione
Publisher: Viking (Penguin)
Pub Date: November 2011
Source: I received a finished copy of this book for review from the publisher.
About the book:
When Anna spots a cat in the yard behind her parents’ doll shop, she is excited. Then she realizes the cat is about to have kittens-even better! And Anna has something else to look forward to: her cousin Tania is coming from Russia to stay with Anna’s family. Anna already has two sisters, but she and Tania are the exact same age-eleven-and she imagines they will get along perfectly. But Tania doesn’t respond to Anna’s friendly overtures, and her sisters don’t seem to like Tania at all. Luckily, Anna finds a creative way to use her love of dolls and cats to bring everyone together.
I have to send out a huge Thank You to Diane for bringing this book to my attention because up until she mentioned it to me I have never heard of it and I am so happy that I got the chance to read it because it was so much fun to read. I am actually going to pass this book on to my son’s school library as I am sure the kids would love this story.
I haven’t read the companion book The Doll Shop Downstairs yet but I am going to after reading this one.
I am always a little hesitant about reading a second book or a companion book when I haven’t read the first one because sometimes characters have been introduced or things have happened and the story continues but I have to say not this one. This can actually read as a stand alone and I really enjoyed it. I think the middle graders would too.
Anna’s family (Mama and Papa) own a doll shop (in New York City) where they make dolls that they sell to all kinds of stores (F.A.O Schwarz). Anna lives with her two sisters (Sophie and Trudie) in an apartment above the doll shop. She is a middle child.
In the beginning of the book the girls discover that their cousin Tania will be coming from Russia to stay with them for a year until their aunt can get anough money together to join her daughter. This is the first time they have met her and they are excited. Anna has imagined all kinds of things about Tania and is hoping that since they both are the same age that they will bond but once Tania gets here things aren’t like they were imagined.
Now if having a stranger coming to visit who couldn’t speak english wasn’t enough excitement lets throw in a stray cat that Anna spotted across the yard. This is just any stray cat but a stray cat ready to give birth anytime soon. The girls decide they have to take care of it especially after what they witness a neighbor doing. Thankfully their dad steps in and allows the girls to give it scraps but nothing else. They are from the old country and they didn’t have pets.
I loved how having a mouse in the house changed Tania because she bonded with the cat because the father allowed the cat to come in so that she could catch it or at least that is what we think happened.
I love reading stories that happen in New York City because it brings back so many great memories of my trip there and when Yona wrote about Ellis Island and when you came in from the boat you went right there before coming into the US. Having visited Ellis Island I can only imagine what it must have felt like to have been traveling weeks, months to finally hit land and see this amazing skyline in front of you and wondering what your future would hold.
Yona did a fantastic job because the story takes place during the Cold War and I can only image what it must have felt for Tania to be coming to a new place on her own and staying with strangers.
I also enjoyed the glossary of terms at the back of the book because there was a few Jewish words I didn’t know and to have them close by was nice.
Thanks to Diane once again for bringing this book to my attention and to Viking for sending it my way.
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