Leonard (My Life as a Cat)” by Carlie Sorosiak

Review by Linda Tripp, collection development librarian

It was a disaster after centuries of planning! He’d arrive on Earth, interview for the park ranger job, accept the position, and immediately start, wowing his colleagues with his knowledge of the wilderness. (He even has his appearance all planned out: he’ll have a mustache, wear boots, and carry all manner of useful items in his pockets, including a Swiss Army knife.)

But a moment’s distraction while riding a beam of light toward the planet causes everything to go very, very, wrong. Landing nearly 2,000 miles away from his original destination, he ends up in a tree surrounded by water, before being rescued by an 11- year-old girl who promptly names him Leonard. Instead of a human, he is a cat! All his well-laid plans did NOT prepare him to deal with tails, claws, and ack! hairballs. 

Like all members of his alien species on the eve of their 300th birthday, he embraces the opportunity to spend a month as an Earth creature. After decades of study, he longs to be able to flick his human hands to gesture at an exhibit, practice what he’s learned from “I Love Lucy” episodes, and tell some of the jokes he’s worked on for an entire year. Instead, unable to speak, Leonard has exactly one month to experience life as a cat in South Carolina and somehow travel to his pick up point at Yellowstone National Park, or he’ll be stuck on earth forever.

 Can Leonard learn how to deal with all that fur, and will he be able to adjust to not being human? Will he learn to communicate with Olive, who has her own problems with awkwardness and loneliness? Most importantly, will he make it to his rendezvous in time? 

Middle-grade readers don’t have to be cat lovers to enjoy this funny, heartwarming tale of an alien who learns more about humans by being a cat, including how to be a friend and finding someone special who feels like home. However, if you know cats well, you’ll surely laugh out loud like I did reading Leonard (My Life as a Cat). It’s the perfect title to get you in the mood for this year’s summer reading theme: Tails and Tales.