Official Review: Dreamcats by Christopher Best

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Official Review: Dreamcats by Christopher Best

Post by bookowlie » 23 Dec 2018, 11:33

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Dreamcats" by Christopher Best.]
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2 out of 4 stars
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Dreamcats by Christopher Best features two siblings who are in the midst of a shared dream. David and Elsa find themselves in a town run by oversized cats who act like people. The kids are captured and thrown into a compound for “stray” humans. In the town of Felinestow, humans are good for only two purposes – to be adopted as a pet, or killed and turned into food. A kindly police cat, George, takes David and Elsa home as pets, but their troubles are far from over. Things turn chaotic when a group of Siamese cats declares war on the town.

This 198-page children’s book contains many inventive touches, but the plot is very busy. The story begins with clear imagery of the setting, including cutesy cat names for restaurants and other locations. After the children are detained, the focus is on a typical “how do we escape” dilemma. Then the plot goes off track with various side stories, such as the Siamese attack and political dissent.

David and Elsa are fleshed out well as two children who are aware that they are caught up in a dream. They are frightened, yet try to remain calm under pressure. George is a standout as a wise, compassionate cat. He is showcased to the point where the siblings often feel like supporting characters.

One problem I had was the way humans were treated in this fantasy town. Young readers could wind up having nightmares about being captured and eaten by cats. I cringed when I saw the word slaughterhouse used several times in one chapter.

The tale plods forward slowly, due in part to the author’s rambling writing style. I found myself rereading long-winded sentences for clarity. The story appears to be edited well, with only a few errors (you’re/your and an incorrectly placed comma). Also, the author includes several references that older adults might appreciate, but children wouldn’t relate to – for example, Anthony and Cleopatra, Oscar Wildebeast, etc.

There are no pictures other than a generic set of paw prints between each chapter. Certainly, illustrations aren’t required in a children’s chapter book. Still, the imaginative descriptions scream for accompanying artwork. Adding a few plot-related illustrations might keep a young reader’s mind from wandering.

I rate this book 2 out of 4 stars. With a long-winded writing style and meandering plot, it didn’t hold my interest consistently. That being said, readers ages 9-11 might enjoy the creative descriptions and relate to the main characters having a weird dream. Although the book could be read aloud to younger children, it is very long and includes sophisticated political themes. Teens would likely find the subject matter too juvenile for their taste.

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Post by gali » 25 Dec 2018, 08:29

A kids' book about two siblings who share a dream about human-like cats sounds original. It sounds like a book with a potential. A pity about the meandering plot, the rambling writing style, and lack of illustrations. kids at that age love pictures in their books. Great review as always!
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Post by kandscreeley » 25 Dec 2018, 12:03

It seems, as I've seen before, that the author wasn't clear about the age group for this before writing. The use of the word slaughterhouse made me cringe as well. I just don't think this is for me. Thanks for the review, but it seems that the author has some work to do.
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Post by Book Lover 35 » 26 Dec 2018, 01:11

A cat eating a human does sound a little gross. If it wasn't for that, it would sound like a great kids book. Thank you.
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Post by Emy Katherine » 26 Dec 2018, 05:41

One problem I had was the way humans were treated in this fantasy town. Young readers could wind up having nightmares about being captured and eaten by cats. I cringed when I saw the word slaughterhouse used several times in one chapter.
Although I love children's books, I think I will pass on this one. I don't like the way humans are treated in this book; in fact, humans being eaten by cats? NO WAY. However, thank you for detailed review!

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Post by Cecilia_L » 26 Dec 2018, 09:31

Wow, the use of the word slaughterhouse in a children's book would cause me to cringe, too! This doesn't sound like a book I would recommend to young readers, but I appreciate your candid review.

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Post by bookowlie » 26 Dec 2018, 13:59

Thanks everyone for the feedback! I know some of the classic fairytales had violent storylines - didn't the wolf plot to eat Little Red Riding Hood? :) Still, the thought of getting chopped up and served as cat food is pretty nauseating.
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Post by Jagiine » 26 Dec 2018, 22:34

This sounds like a great plot line! I am very interested in this book. I am disappointed by what you've said about the author's rambling; long-winded communications and unpoliced tangents are pet peeves of mine. Despite that disenchantment, I still find myself interested in reading this story. So, thank you for sharing!

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Post by bookowlie » 27 Dec 2018, 10:26

Jagiine wrote: ↑
26 Dec 2018, 22:34
This sounds like a great plot line! I am very interested in this book. I am disappointed by what you've said about the author's rambling; long-winded communications and unpoliced tangents are pet peeves of mine. Despite that disenchantment, I still find myself interested in reading this story. So, thank you for sharing!
The story has so much potential because the premise is very unique and creative. The writing style is not the best for a children's book because long-winded sentences can be hard for children to comprehend.
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Post by Jagiine » 27 Dec 2018, 16:12

Yes, if also not recommend the horror aspects for a children's book. But, as an adult who loves cats, I think it could suit me.

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Post by JordanKSmith » 28 Dec 2018, 21:18

Yeah, politics and slaughterhouses really aren't kid-friendly topics. That's a really important point.

...I think I might be the unintended audience. I'm part of a slim portion of society that is an adult with totally childish tastes. I can understand the politics and enjoy the mostly childish world of Dreamcats.
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Post by bookowlie » 28 Dec 2018, 22:14

JordanKSmith wrote: ↑
28 Dec 2018, 21:18
Yeah, politics and slaughterhouses really aren't kid-friendly topics. That's a really important point.

...I think I might be the unintended audience. I'm part of a slim portion of society that is an adult with totally childish tastes. I can understand the politics and enjoy the mostly childish world of Dreamcats.
Actually, you might be the intended audience! The story seems more suited to adults who like fun fantasy themes. :)
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Post by Alicia09 » 30 Dec 2018, 13:00

I think this book is probably best for adults. Even though the cover illustration seems like it could belong to a typical children's story, the plot and the way humans are treated make the story sound like adults would appreciate the story more. I would not feel comfortable introducing this book to my students, but I would love to read it for my own personal pleasure. Since I am a fan or horror stories and I love reading anything with gore, I am very excited to read this book. I want to find out more about the human slaughterhouses. I think this book would appeal to adults with a dark, dry sense of humor (like me). Thanks! While I wouldn't recommend this book to children, it's definitely going on my "want to read" list.
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Post by Sakilunamermaid » 30 Dec 2018, 15:22

I like the sound of this book, it's rare that you hear about a shared dream experience and I'm a fan of animals that behave as humans and speak. I'm also surprised at the length of this book. When my reading list slims down I may have a look at this book. It is odd for this to be categorized as a children's book but in recent years books have been written to consider, introduce, and cover more heavy subjects. Maybe it is a commentary on the dog meat situation in China, or it is an interesting fantasy book that has a different audience all together haha.

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Post by yisellesuarez » 05 Jan 2019, 16:31

"Dreamcats" seems like a story fit for introducing and teaching childrens about difficult subjects of real world.

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