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"The Cat that Broke the Internet's Back" - Review

César Lages

The Cat that broke .jpg

This book tells the story of a cat called Munch. Munch was a very ugly and fat cat, who lived with his dear owner, Miss Emily.  Spring was beginning and everyone was starting to sing. Munch and Miss Emily loved being on the porch listening to the toads singing. He had a very quiet life until the day the Wattersons decided to leave the city and Cleo moved in with Munch and Miss Emily. Cleo was a beautiful, clean cat, with symmetrical whiskers. One day, with Cleo already living with them, they were home and a bored Cleo decided to try and access the Internet on Miss Emily’s computer, more precisely the website “FunnyOrSpit”, a kind of social network where people posted pictures and videos. Munch was worried, as he wasn’t sure if it was safe.  While surfing the social network, Cleo had the idea of taking a picture of Munch and uploading it to the social network, ensuring Munch that it would be a success. A few hours after posting the picture, it ended up becoming viral. It was everywhere. It even started a massive flame war in various websites. Munch was completely horrified with the comments made to his picture. Munch felt like he was misled, since Cleo told him that the Internet loved cats and he would become a star. Munch was crushed. All he wanted was Miss Emily, but she wasn’t home that day. As he was trying to take a nap, he started having nightmares. He heard voices laughing at him, he saw fingers pointing at him, he heard angry and hateful words. They called him fat and ugly and gross. And he was telling himself that he was not a bad cat, that they would like him if they knew him. Munch was living a true hell, he was asking for everyone to stop saying those things. After these nightmares, Munch thought that maybe a stroll would help him feel better. During the stroll, he found Hal, who noticed that he was very sad. Munch told him he was upset, since the Internet didn’t like him and that they were saying horrible things about him and that he was afraid that Miss Emily thought the same way these people that he didn’t know do.  Hal told him that he was having some problems too, because the vernal pool where the tadpoles were was drying up too quickly and they were going to die. Munch was worried, since he couldn’t imagine a Spring without toad songs. When Hal told him that he should have put the eggs at the great pond, Munch had the idea of digging a channel from the great pond to the vernal pool. That way, they would be able to save the tadpoles. This eventually happened. With the help of the marsh critters, he dug to exhaustion and saved the tadpoles, becoming a true hero. He was very happy for being able to help. After saving the tadpoles, Munch felt happy and he also felt better about what happened on the Internet. The Internet could not like him, but the marsh folk loved him. When he arrived home, Munch was covered in mud and Miss Emily gave him a bath.  After the comforting bath, Munch was on the porch when Cleo came to him and told him that something very bad had happened. FunnyOrSpit had terminated the account due to flame war and some comments he had made. Munch told him gently to keep calm and that they would sort it out after eating, since things would be clearer to him with a full belly. However, after the meal, Cleo forgets about the problem and goes to the porch with Munch and Miss Emily. The story ends with the three listening to toad songs, even though it was already out of season. Cleo takes the chance to apologize to Munch for all the harm caused.

With this story, the author addresses themes like cyberbullying, the dangers of the internet, but also like love and kindness.  He passes on a strong and beautiful message: we should never judge anyone only by their physical appearance. We should not judge by appearance because it sometimes allures the eyes but blinds the heart and the mind.

The CAT that Broke the INTERNET’S BACK is a children’s book targeted to children between 5 and 8. It is a quick-reading book. However, in my opinion, some of the words used in the book are maybe too complex for that age group. I recommend it not only to children, but also to adults. I really liked it!

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