The Captain’s Log – it’s like this, cat (Emily Cheney Neville) – a Newbery Winner!

Ahoy there me mateys!  I recently saw this book somewhere and of course was interested because of the title.  Cause cats be awesome.  Then I saw that Amazon had it for free.  So I downloaded it.  Apparently it be the 1964 Newbery winner.  Which of course I had forgotten about despite having read the list of Newbery winners a billion times.  I also had no idea what it was about.  I picked it up yesterday on a whim.

I adored it.  It be a coming of age tale about a boy named Dave, growing up in Manhattan in the 1960s.  He happens to get a stray cat named Cat who changes his life.  While the Cat parts are absolutely lovely, the real story of the book revolves around Dave’s evolving relationships with his family and friends.  He roams all over Manhattan living an everyday life.  Dave is naïve but endearing and good-hearted.

It is also a slice of life story.  The writing style is simplistic in style but does deal with more mature themes like homelessness, parental abandonment, mental illness, chronic illness, and death.  Despite the dark themes, the tone is lighter and not depressing.  Dave learns and reflects and changes because of what he experiences.

I think this is an excellent example of a children’s classic that people should still read.  While it seems simplistic to a reader today, this book was credited with introducing the first-person present tense in children’s books.  It was also said to be too realistic.  An fantastic article discussing the background of the book says that in the author’s “Newbery acceptance speech, “Out Where the Real People Are,” Emily Neville defended this new genre for teens: “The real world, with its shadings of light and dark, its many-toned colors, is so much more beautiful than the rigid world of good and bad. It is also more confusing. I think the teen-age reader is ready for both.”  This book helped usher in a new trend in teen literature that forever changed the landscape of publishing.  Arrrr!

Side note:  Matey Jackie where be yer review for this?  To see the list of the other books I have read check out me Newbery page!  Also Matey Jackie, cause I know ye be a dork like me, check out this 1973 dissertation about the first 50 years of the Newbery Medal.

Goodreads’ website has this to say about the novel:

To visit the author’s wiki page go to:

Emily Cheney Neville – Author

To buy the book go to:

it’s like this, cat – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

12 thoughts on “The Captain’s Log – it’s like this, cat (Emily Cheney Neville) – a Newbery Winner!

  1. I haven't quite gotten to this one yet– but thanks for pointing out that it's free on Amazon! It didn't occur to me to check for public domain eBook editions… Did you notice anything quality-wise with this eBook? I find some of these public domain editions have a lot of typos, grammatical errors, etc.

    I love the fact that this is the book that introduced first-person present to children's literature! How wonderful. There's a lot of history to understand in these award winners. Even if they are not amazing compared to today's literature, it's critical to understand the context of these books!

    I'll read this soon. And skim that 250 pages dissertation. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This ebook edition was extremely clear. There was some debate online about how the illustrations and style of the original published book turned off teen readers. But this ebook version didn’t have them. It can be hit or miss with the free public domain versions. I usually go to Gutenberg to check out what they have. This Amazon find was a pure fluke.
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Aye, I do think there is value of reading older contemporaries for that exact reason. It’s one of the reasons that I think Newberys are great for schools because they can be used as discussion points for why things have changed. There has been a lot of debate about the Laura Ingalls Wilder books recently because the characters considered Native Americans not to be people. True back then sadly. It’s like when I learned that the Briar Rabbit books are now considered racist even though they come from a strong African oral story telling tradition.
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well that does make sense then. Per wikipedia “The John Newbery Medal, frequently shortened to the Newbery, is a literary award given by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” I have been reading Newbery winners since I was a child and still love reading them these days.
        x The Captain


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