The Path Before Me


Children - Grade 4th-6th
154 Pages
Reviewed on 08/31/2021
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    Book Review

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.

Vincent Dublado

In comparison to dogs, cats are considered more introverted. They have a stronger sense of independence, but this does not make them less appealing than dogs. The Path Before Me proves this idea as author Russell H. Plante writes a heartwarming tale about a stray cat that represents the plight of all animals in need of human compassion. In a small New England town, a newborn kitten named Patches learns to settle into the rhythms of the world, familiarizing himself with his vicinity through his emerging senses. Within weeks, he begins to observe his father walking onto a pathway and disappearing down a wooded trail. In the early fall, he gets a chance to follow his father, who loves roaming through the forest. And so begins the adventure of young Patches, where he will encounter many obstacles that will teach him to better understand life and lead him to where he rightfully belongs.

I live with four cats, and I feel like I’m the one they adopted rather than the other way around. It is not surprising that I find The Path Before Me to be immensely powerful and effective. Perhaps it’s because Russell H. Plante truly captures the sublime nature of one furry creature that becomes an allegory of human existence. What Plante captures is compassion in its truest form. It is a fitting tale for middle graders as a fundamental lesson in dealing with life’s challenges. At the same time, the work will help them develop compassion for other creatures that we live with on this planet we call home. Reading The Path Before Me is like going on a transformational journey. Cats are intelligent creatures with a knack for exploring. Patches lost his way, but he manages to find it and returns wiser from his experiences. For anyone who appreciates intelligent animal stories, this book is a sure winner.

Shrabastee Chakraborty

In The Path Before Me, Russell H. Plante narrates the story of a kitten named Patches. Nurtured by his mother’s affection and care, he spent his early days in innovative shenanigans with his siblings and their human family. Occasional trips with his father helped him learn the secrets of the forest. However, nothing prepared Patches for the ill-fated day when his owner threw him out of the house in a fit of rage. Helpless and alone, he wandered through unfamiliar streets. Gradually, he made a few formidable enemies and forged some unlikely alliances. While all these experiences contributed to an eventful life, would he ever find his way back to a loving family?

In his book, Plante delivered a warm, lovely tale complete with beautiful descriptions. The prose exuded a calm and serene aura that soothed me. I fell in love with the non-human characters and their various antics. Patches’ unique experiences and interactions with other animals made him streetwise. At the same time, they helped him develop an empathetic and moral character as well. His quick wits and spur-of-the-moment actions saved the day. I loved the guileless humor Plante incorporated into the storyline. Disguised as a simple tale, The Path Before Me taught us many of life’s truths. It showed us why we shouldn’t be quick to judge a person before putting ourselves in their shoes. It emphasized the importance of love and acceptance. Most notably, Patches’ story demonstrated the power of perseverance. This brave little kitten inspired us never to back down but to face the adversities and dangers head-on. All in all, this was a wholesome story that I would recommend to young readers.