Who can resist a delightful story about cats? Charm (An Amazing Story of a Little Black Cat) written and illustrated by the talented Leyla Atke has it all-it’s a tale about love, loss, and continuing on, despite the pain of the loss that exists when one’s beloved pet dies and leaves an empty, cat-shaped hole in one’s heart. How can such an abyss be filled? And, how did the feelings toward the handsome black cat, which the narrator calls Charm, develop in the first place?
In Charm, the author weaves a story that is, itself, charming. Atke introduces the short but sweet book by reminiscing, in the first chapter, about how Charm came into her life and changed it forever for the better. She has the first-person narrator tell of “a hot summer day in June of 2006″ when she “was leaving work for a break.” The reason she is leaving is “to get a new hairstyle” and she is in a hurry to fit in the hairstyle into her busy day. Such are the times when Fate, or God, enters into our plans and sometimes, if we’re lucky, changes them in ways that we’d never planned, but which bring a touch of happiness to our lives.
At a busy intersection, on the way to her hair appointment, the narrator notices “something small and black” in the middle of the road, among the rushing cars. She notices that it is moving, and she decides to see what it is, so she stops her car and gets out to get a closer look. As she approaches the object, she sees that it is “a small black kitten sitting in the middle of the road.” With the cars “waiting for a green light from both sides,” she realizes that she has the chance to rescue the kitten, and she takes it.
Even then after the narrator saves the kitten, she’s not sure what to do with it, and considers if she should just “leave it in the park” which is nearby. However, struck by how cute and gentle the kitten is, though it is dirty and its fur is “smelling like kerosene” she takes the animal to her aunt’s house. She, like the narrator, has her own cat, but she agrees “to shelter the kitten only until the evening.” That enables the narrator to return to work, think about what has transpired, and make her decision about keeping the kitten.
I don’t want to give anything else away, except to say that she does decide to keep the small black kitten, and to call it Charm. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Leyla Atke’s book, and her wonderful illustrations help give the reader a genuine feel for how Charm must have looked, and how the kitten managed to, well, charm his way into the narrator’s life.
There is something else I should mention, though, about the book. It is written primarily for young teens on up. What ultimately happens to Charm is sad, and the description of the cat’s body after his demise might be too much for younger readers to handle, though the author is being honest about relating the details. Also, the author writes that “Vaccination and castration” will be musts for a new kitten that enters into her life, who she first sees just “a couple of steps away from Charm’s grave,” and who she also decides to call Charm. These elements don’t at all detract (at least not in my humble opinion) from the appeal of the book; but, I thought I should mention these things, so that if someone decides to buy it for younger kids, they will know that the kids might come to them with some very interesting questions about death and the definition of “castration.”
Charm (An Amazing Story of a Little Black Cat) is a truly charming story about how much a kitten can effect a person’s life and bring joy to it. If you are an animal lover, and perhaps own a cat or have owned them in the past, you’ll definitely want to add this delightful short book to your reading lists. It would also make a great gift for a cat lover in your life. I highly recommend Charm to anyone who has ever owned, or who currently owns, a kitten or a cat.