Beverly Cleary, illustrated by Beatrice Darwin
William Morrow & Company, 1973
Socks has a wonderful life with his people, The Bricker’s – that is until they bring a new baby home. Socks does not like this new addition because all the attention shifts from him to the newborn. Socks gets into all kinds of trouble but eventually becomes a loving member of the family again.
Main characters –
· Socks, “black stripes on his head and the black rings around his tail like the rings on a raccoon’s tail and those little white socks.”
· Marilyn Bricker, Socks’ female person who, for some reason unknown to him, loses her lap overtime and after disappearing for a few days comes back with a “new pet.”
· Bill Bricker, Socks’ male person who has all the time in the world for him but after the “new pet” doesn’t pay that much attention to Socks.
Secondary characters –
· Charles William, the “new pet” who cries and fusses to keep his parents attention.
· Mrs. Risley, the babysitter who gives Socks the love and attention he is desperately craving.
· Nana, Bill Bricker’s mother, who is instrumental in having Socks banished to the outside and to sleep in the garage.
Other characters –
· Debbie & George, sister and brother that try to sell Socks and his siblings out of a box in front of the grocery store.
· Old Taylor, a “black cat with the torn ear and bulging jowls” and bullies Socks around and actually beats him up.
Socks was fun to read and as it is with other ‘vintage’ books it was interesting to see how the lives of another generation are different than our own. For instance, while he was given regular cat food, he was also fed kidney pieces for supper. Mrs. Bricker came home from the hospital after a few days and immediately fed the baby formula (which the leftover was given to Socks). Maybe it was that way because in a 1973 kid’s book the subject of breast-feeding was considered inappropriate. As a cat not too far from kittenhood myself, I don’t see what the big deal is about suckling from your mom. That what she does to feed you…but I digress…. Anyway, I didn’t like Nana because she didn’t think Socks belonged in the house, but I did like what Socks did to her “hair!” you will have to read it to find out. Socks and Charles Williams eventually become friends and the cat is finally allowed back in the house for good. Very cute story with sparse pen and ink illustrations.
Rating: 3 paws for a good read and a 70’s vintage vibe.
The original cover is white (the one we have) but here are some other covers that are cuter:
picture courtesy Pleasant View Schoolhouse
picture courtesy Getting a Read on Oregon
Socks tattoo courtesy Contrariwise:Literary Tattoos