By Book Review by Steven Levi
ME NOW – THE ADVENTURES OF MICKEY THE MUSHING CAT
By Leon Mensch
Relevant Publishers, Sutton, Alaska
As a book reviewer I am a sucker for the story that is different – and I have to say just the thought of a cat mushing the Iditarod is, well, different. With the exception that the ‘hero’ is a cat, the start of the saga is very conventional. Mickey, a stray cat, is struggling to survive on the East Coast, suffering the usual horror stories of not enough food, cruel owners and vicious dogs. With a bit of divine intervention he is adopted into a loving family in Vermont.
I thought this was an Iditarod story?!
It is; the family are dog lovers and dog racers. So they move to Alaska where they start a dog sled kennel and learn how to be dog mushers – every dog owner’s dream. Mickey is not particularly fond of Alaska. It has too much snow and too many dogs. So he slips outside to escape the snow and dogs and, as fate would have it, he hides in a dog sled strapped to the top of the owners’ car. When he wakes up, he’s in the Iditarod.
Schmaltz, yes. But this book is for second and third graders so a little bit of logical leeway is allowable. And for those second and third graders who are not going to run the Iditarod for a decade, the book offers them a snapshot of the 900 miles run, complete with bitter cold – which pleases Mickey not at all! – frozen rivers, snow-chocked gorges, thin ice and all of the other teams of dogs that hunger, quite literally, for fresh cat meat.
This is a unique book because it offers a different perspective on the Iditarod, the history as well as the day-to-day reality of being on the trail. AND, the value of working together even if you are a cat in dog’s world, er, race. ME NOW won the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards: Pets/Animals Category (“Gold Winner”, 1st place in October 2020)