HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Author: Beverly Cleary
Illustrator: Beatrice Darwin
Publisher: HarperCollins, republished in 2008
ISBN-13: 978-0881032727 (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0881032727 (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0380709267 (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0380709260 (Paperback)
Related website: http://beverlycleary.com/ (author)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 7 and up
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Cleary, Beverly. Socks (published in 1973 by William Morrow and Company Inc., New York City, NY; republished in 1980 by Dell Publishing Co. Inc., 1 Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, New York City, NY 10017). Socks is a seven week old gray tabby kitten with four white paws. Debbie and George sell him for 50 cents to a young married couple, Bill and Marilyn Bricker, who take him to their shabby house with a weedy lawn. As time goes on, Socks is one happy cat because he gets a lot of attention and all his desires are met—at least until Mr. and Mrs. Bricker bring home their “other pet,” a new baby named Charles William. Suddenly the Brickers have less and less time for Socks who feels left out and seems to start getting into all sorts of trouble. Then Nana visits and is afraid that Socks might scratch and bite the baby. What will happen to Socks? Does he go or stay? And what will Charles William do?
I have read several children’s books about horses and dogs, but I have not seen as many about cats. Beverly Cleary is a prolific author of literature for young people who, at almost 99, is still alive as of this writing. I did not like her Newbery Medal winning Dear Mr. Henshaw because it was just too depressing. Her books about Ramona Quimby are all right for girls, and her books about Henry Huggins are not bad for boys. I liked Ellen Tebbits, and I especially enjoyed the books about Ralph Mouse and his little motorcycle. I also liked Socks, which won the William Allen White Children’s Book Award. The original, charming illustrations were done by Beatrice Darwin, but many publishers feel compelled to “update” the artwork in some older books to make them more appealing to today’s kids, and newer editions are illustrated by Tracy Dockray.
One reader reviewer complained a little about Socks’s “bad behavior” and seemed to suggest that children should read “tales with good pet characters.” I have lived with cats all of my life, and I must say that Cleary depicts with absolute faithfulness the kinds of attitudes and antics which characterizes cats. This same reviewer also noted that “it’s dated, as is obvious in the repeated use of ‘Mr. Bricker’ and ‘Mrs. Bricker’ to refer to the man and woman of the house.” I say, good for it! It’s always refreshing to read books portraying traditional practices which have been a part of polite society for years. Besides being just an enjoyable story, concerning which the School Library Journal said, “Hilarious…Both children and adults will roar with laughter at Socks’s antics and cringe at his misdeeds,” it might be useful for children who have experienced the emotional upheaval of having to share their parents with a new baby.