07 30 2016
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The Wake of Vanport

Book Review: Clara Meets Mr. Twiddles
by Lynnette A. Murray-Gibson
Illustrated by Nancy Scheibe

"This book is dedicated to Jazz Purr, the real Mr. Twiddles, who is now taking catnaps in Cat Heaven. The book is also dedicated to all the children of Liberia, West Africa. The proceeds from the sale of this book will be used to build schools and clinics in rural areas of Liberia so children impoverished by an eighteen-year war can obtain a free education."
n Excerpted from the Dedication (page 5)

Clara is a housekeeper who is a cat-whisperer of sorts, because she has been capable of communicating with felines ever since the day she was rewarded with VSP, aka Very Special Powers, for rescuing seven kittens that were drowning. So, you can imagine the surprise of Mr. Twiddles the day Clara shows up to clean the home of his owners, Mr. Bill and Miss Mary.
For when Twiddles starts to complain about all the racket the new maid is making with her vacuum cleaner and brooms and buckets, he gets the surprise of his life when she suddenly responds to him, and senses that she understands his every meow. Being very protective of his turf, Twiddles still decides to disrupt Clara as she goes about her work.
The battle of wills which ensues animates the balance of "Clara Meets Mr. Twiddles," a charming children's tale designed with kids 4-8 years of age in mind. The story was written by Lynnette A. Murray-Gibson, a long-time resident of Minnesota who drew on her own experiences as a housekeeper for inspiration. Born in Monrovia, Liberia, Ms. Gibson embarked on this project in part as a philanthropic effort to benefit orphans of the civil war back in her homeland in need of education.
When read aloud, "Clara Meets Mr. Twiddles" sounds a lot like Dr. Seuss, as the dialogue frequently adopts a similar sing-song staccato, such as when Clara announces: "I've brought brooms and buckets and mops and brushes. I've got vacuums and rags and sprays and polish. I sweep and dust and mop and scrub." As for the illustrations, the colorful airbrushed artwork is pleasant and ubiquitous, with cute cat paw prints appearing even on the pages with just words.
Overall, a delightful book made all the more fun when you know that the author plans to donate the proceeds to a very good cause.

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