In this follow-up to Rocket Boys, the memoir adapted into the popular film October Sky, Joe Barrett’s warm, folksy narration invites the listener to settle in to the story of what happened next to the young man intent on going to space. Paco: The Cat Who Meowed in Space is the cheerful story of Homer Hickam’s realization of the American Dream, in this case a long-desired career as a NASA engineer. Woven throughout is Hickam’s deep relationship with his cat Paco. As the first cat to meow in space, Paco reveals the healing possibilities of the human-animal relationship.
Homer Hickam, author of the memoir Rocket Boys (made into the movie October Sky), recalls his first years as a NASA engineer, while also telling the story of his fluffy black and white cat Paco, who had the magic ability to make people smile and give them hope. But when Paco was struck down by a disease that left him unable to walk, Hickam was faced with a terrible decision, let his beloved cat live in misery or put him to sleep. Before that decision could be made, the space mission Hickam was working on needed to be rescued and there was only one sure way to save it: Paco's magic meow! This is a true story of the space age, that is also a delightful tale of the love between an engineer and his cat.
©2012 Homer Hickam (P)2013 Audible Inc.
SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!
Disclosure: Anything with animals ups my rating.
But where's Paco?
Really, I wanted to like this. I tried. Honestly, I did. But, yeesh! It was mostly a meandering memoir with a cat barely peeking into the narrative now and then, and not often enough to save this distressing bore of a book. If Paco, the cat, had been featured more, perhaps I'd feel differently. But, as he woefully was not, what can I say?
If you're looking for a nice break, something engaging that is light(er)-hearted and has something to do with animals, go for the Bob the Streetcat books. There you'll find an animal that was given a chance to shine in the narrative.
Here, you'll just get a YA tour of a glossed-over space program (ahem! We joyfully took in a bunch of yes, gifted and motivated, scientists, but, ahem! Nazis... can we at least have a line or two as to any misgivings we may have had?). And there was an opportunity to go into the Challenger disaster, but here, it's just a sad bummer with too little information about the horror of the experience.
And once again: Where's Paco?
Really! The entire epilogue is a bunch of clever emails sent back and forth about how a cat might relieve himself in space. It's about a character Hickman wrote in a novel... a character... based on Paco! But in the epilogue itself? Where the hell is the real Paco?!?
The narration is respectable, but it sounds like an older gentleman reflecting on his life. On his childhood home. On his place within the space program. On his hobby of scuba diving or looking for fossils. On how maybe someday he'll write a book, on this, that, and the other. (Hey! I've got an idea. How about writing a book about Paco?)
Spare yourself the money, and the time. Give this one a pass. (Sorry, Paco. The few lines I heard of you? You sounded cute)
music nut, history buff
What is it like to be a NASA engineer? Also, what is it like to be his cat? This brief book gives us a look into the research that created the Space Shuttle program, as well as its effect on the people and cats who supported it. A fun story for pet lovers, and especially for students just getting interested in science.
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