Review By JENNIFER GANNETT
Six Is So Much Less Than Seven is the thoughtful story of an older farmer with six affectionate cats. The book opens with all of them rising together, heading out to milk the farm’s cow and then moving on to the occupations of the day.
It is clear that the farmer derives a great deal of satisfaction and joy from the cats, and they from him. The end of the story is especially poignant as the six felines and one human gather at the end of the day at a small grave marked “Scruffy Cat.” We feel for the man (and the kitties), who keenly miss their friend. The last page depicts what is likely meant to be an uplifting ending: one of the cats has kittens, and the farmer is illustrated gazing at them contentedly. Folks who aren’t knowledgeable about the extent of animal overpopulation will probably not bat an eyelash, but even a cursory knowledge about animal overpopulation issues leads to disappointment at the depiction of a litter of kittens as a happy ending — in children’s stories or in life. Shelters and rescues are overflowing with adoptable homeless cats, so it would have been preferable to see the main character visit a shelter to pick out a new friend.
Your mileage will vary in terms of how acceptable it is to see a cow kept and milked. This is clearly a small farm and the illustration with the cow shows a tender moment between the cow and a cat while the cow is being milked. Between this and the kitten depiction, you may choose not to introduce this story to your children. If you do, however, you will be rewarded with a lot to discuss and illustrations which quietly match the simple story. It is also a book that could be used to help young children learn about and discuss the topic of the death of a loved one– it is so evident that the deceased Scruffy is remembered and cherished. It is likely that little kitty lovers will enjoy this book if you choose to read it to them.
For ages 4 and up.