Blake, Jon. The Last Free Cat.
4 August 2012, Albert Whitman Books
Jade and her mother find a cat in the yard, take her in, and name her Feela. This isn't unusual... unless you live in the future and there has been a cat flu pandemic that can transfer to humans. Cats have been strictly regulated, and there are just a few companies that are allowed to breed cats, so they are very expensive to buy. When the authorities find out that Jade has a cat, they search her home, upsetting her mother, who has a bad heart and dies. Luckily, a neighbor boy, Kris, helps Jade escape, and they go on the run. They have heard that cats are free in Ireland, where there are so many other political problems that no one pays attention to cats. They run into a group of people who are trying to free the cats, and get some help from them, but are on the run. Eventually, they are caught, and the head of Viafra, one of the cat breeding companies, makes Jade an offer-- pay us, and you can keep the cat. But when Jade finds out that Feela will lose her kittens, she knows that this is not the answer.
Strengths: This was a very good kids-on-the-run adventure, with the added attraction of being slightly dystopian. Perhaps since it involves cats, I can get the Warriors fanatics to take a break and read this. (And this is confirmed. Huge Warriors fan thought this was fantastic.) Do like the cover. Very striking and will age well.
Weaknesses: A tad weak on the world building. Other animals are allowed, but not cats. Since I'm not a cat person, my feeling was "Oh, okay. So get a dog instead." Decent reasons behind why cats were illegal, I just didn't quite buy the whole thing.
Roth, Judith L. Serendipity and Me.
7 February 2013, Viking Juvenile
Sara's life is very sad, and about to get sadder. Her mother was killed in a car crash several years ago, and her father has never really gotten over it. Not only that, but Sara gets very ill and has to miss playing Wendy in a school production of Peter Pan, where she stars opposite a boy she likes. When a graduate student who is babysitting her drops off a small, white kitten, Sara tries to talk her father into letting her keep the cat, and also to tell her why he is so against having a cat in the house. He refuses to talk about her mother, and she feels that the prohibition against cats is somehow tied to her.
Strengths: Awesome cover that just begs to be displayed with Almost Home! If you need a book about grief that is in verse, this would be the book.
Weaknesses: Hand-wringingly sad, and in the sort of verse that you wouldn't realize was verse were someone to read it aloud to you. This is quite a picture of an extremely dysfunctional father who can't get over his own grief to help his own daughter.