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Reviewed by Dr. Jordan Alexander for Readers' Favorite
The Path Before Me by Russell H. Plante takes young (and not so young) readers on a delightful journey of discovery and personal development through the eyes of a wee kitten abandoned early in life in a small town on the coast of Maine. Patches, the kitten, brings to life many important lessons, most revolving around relationships with loved ones - both the family you are born into and the friends you meet along the way that become your new family. The Path Before Me provides an excellent backdrop to explore emotional ties with others: loyalty, compassion, kindness, and hope. The sentiment to never give up - a version of hope - is reiterated throughout Patches’ life. Plante carefully weaves lessons about the realities, hardships, and joys of life through the adventures of the main character, Patches. Facing the harsh realities of being abandoned, the kitten must learn about survival; physical, in the blizzards and winter weather of the coast; and emotional, yearning for a sense of belonging and home.
Young readers will have much to discuss with peers and in class as The Path Before Me includes tears, mystery, suspense, and laughter. The kitten meets different animals on his journey - other cats and rats, birds and mice - all aiding a discussion about diversity and patience, to learn more about what lies within each living creature rather than judging based on looks or based on the differences between animals. Plante’s dialogue between the characters - animals and humans - is realistic and lets the reader contemplate their own feelings about events at a comfortable distance through the characters' development. The humans intermingled in the story also magically mirror the diversity in the way they relate to the different animals: some are kind, some adversarial. Lessons in The Path Before Me by Russell H. Plante are to be found in each chapter. Overall, Patch’s journey leaves the reader smiling, reflecting, and remembering there’s no place like home.