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The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook

Written & illustrated by Joanne Rocklin
Published by Amulet Books
Goodreads Rating - 3.8 / 5.0
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Apr 1, 2012
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What's This Book About

Publisher Summary

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 has echoes in Oona’s own family life, which is going through a transition she’s not yet ready to face. Her father died two years ago, and her mother has started a relationship with a man named Dylanùwhom Oona secretly calls ôthe villain.ö The truth about Dylan, and about Zook’s medical condition, drives the drama in this loving family story.

What Kind of Book is The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook

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Quotes from This Book

  • “The Cats-Have-Nine-Lives Theory is what people call ‘an old wives’ tale.” It’s a theory that’s been around since olden times. Everyone who knows cats knows how often they do dumb, death-defying stunts that would kill other living things. How many cats have you noticed snoozing peacefully under a car? Ever seen a dog do that? I rest my case.”

What Questions Should I Ask My Child

  • The Five Lives of our Cat Zook centers around themes of loss and change. What does Zook symbolize for Oona and her family? What connection does Zook have with the death of Oona’s father?

  • The Five Lives of our Cat Zook is chock full of a variety of characters ranging from senior citizens to children from several different religious and cultural backgrounds. With which character did you most identify? Why?

  • Do books—and life—end with one grand happy ending, or are there a series of “happy-ending times” as Oona’s theory suggests? Did the story end the way you expected? What was your emotional response to the conclusion of The Five Lives of our Cat Zook?

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Who Wrote The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook

author & illustrator
Joanne Rocklin

Joanne Rocklin is the author of many books for children, including The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook, which won the Golden Kite Award, and Love, Penelope, which was an NCIBA Golden Poppy Book Award winner.

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What Has Joanne Rocklin Said About This Book

  • What part/character/event are you most excited/proud about In The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook?

    “I am excited about the stories Oona and Fred tell during the course of the novel. My book is mainly about storytelling, and how important that is for everyone—the teller and the reader or listener. Stories help us make sense of this crazy world we live in. Stories help us connect with those around us.”

What Do Critics Say About This Book

  • The only imperfection in this novel is that it ends. Fortunately, an appendix provides us with Oona’s eight-step theory for storymaking, including, “A story doesn’t have to be true, but it does have to be real.”

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Book Details

Publication Date:
April 1, 2012
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Core Score - 88%
So, SO close to perfection!
Depth Score - 46%
Just the barebones.
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