Friday, January 3, 2014

Jessi-Cat the cat that unlocked a boy's heart by Jayne Dillon with Alison Maloney

Lorcan Dillon is a special young boy with an uncommon problem - he has selective mutism, an anxiety disorder that leaves him unable to speak around certain people or in certain situations.  Selective mutism is a challenging disorder, and for Lorcan the condition exists alongside Asperger syndrome which brings its own challenges and complications.  Lorcan is blessed though because he has two parents who love him and refuse to let him slip into the cracks of a seemingly uncaring and unhelpful public health system - and because of a little bundle of fluff that enters his life called Jess.

Jess is a Birman kitten who is renamed Jessi-Cat in short order and becomes an unlikely source of companionship and healing for a child who faces challenges on a daily basis not only because of his Asperger syndrome, but also because his selective mutism sometimes renders him unable to explain why he is struggling with something or someone.  Jessi-Cat is a perfect match for the cheeky. loud, and outgoing Lorcan his family is used to bouncing around the house, but she also has a wider reach - helping him in everyday situations. Jessi-Cats devotion to Lorcan was recognised when she won the Cats Protection National Cat of the Year in 2012, and by winning the award she has helped to raise awareness around the benefits of owning cats, of the wonderful connections people can form with their companion animals, and she has also helped raise awareness of selective mutism.

Like other books of its kind, Jessi-Cat is a very personal and deeply touching story of a family who was changed forever with the arrival of four little paws - except in this case it was the arrival of four little kitty cat paws instead of four little puppy dog paws.  Jayne Dillon has an easy to read writing style, and while she does describe the frustration and set backs she experienced dealing with the public health system, there are no bitter words or haunting disappointments - Dillon accepts Lorcan whole heartedly as he is and she doesn't ask for pity for herself, for Lorcan, or for her family, she is merely sharing an amazing story about an amazing little cat.

I have read a lot of stories about the human companion animal bond, and Jessi-Cat was one of my favourites, purely for the fact that Dillon is such a positive person and presents her story so well - although she does credit Alison Maloney with making her disorganised stories into the book we read.  There are many reasons Jessi-Cat is an amazing book, not only does it raise awareness of the benefits cats can bring, it also raises awareness of selective mutism - which can only be for the good as so many people are unaware that the condition exists.  The wonderful story is supported with some beautiful photographs, most of all the charming picture of Lorcan and Jessi-Cat from the cover.  A heart warming read that reminds us all that being different isn't a bad thing, and that sometimes mans best friend is of the feline variety rather than the canine variety.

If you like this book then try:
Reviewed by Brilla

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