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By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff
On Thursday, September 19, eager children ran up the stairs to the top floor of the Sherborn Community Center to see a special guest.
“Do you think he’s cute?” one child asked his mom. His mom chuckled.
“I’m sure he will be,” she answered.
“Do you think I can pet him?” he asked.
“I don’t know. We’ll see what his owner says.”
Once they arrived at the top of the stairs, kids and their parents were greeted by the sight of a man and his cat. The cat was sitting, perfectly relaxed, beside his owner as he observed those walking in.
Jonathan Hull came to the Sherborn Library to share the story of his cat, “Toto, the Tornado Kitten.” The children’s book is based on the true origin story of his cat. On June 2, 2011, Toto, a tiny kitten at the time, was found trapped in a tree following a devastating F3 tornado in Brimfield, MA. Since he was only a couple of weeks old, volunteers took him to the Animal Rescue League of Boston. He recovered nicely and Amy, Jonathan’s wife, adopted the young kitten as soon as she was able, returning with him back to Brimfield. Since then, Toto has become quite the celebrity around town.
After a brief introduction, Hull launched into reading his book aloud to the audience. The book was filled with wonderful illustrations that helped explain Toto’s journey from his mother to the tree in which he was found, to the Animal Rescue League, and back to Brimfield. The book begins with a picture of Toto napping in the grass with his mom and his siblings. “The picture looks just like him!” whispered one boy to his sister. A few pages later, Toto was trapped in a tree.
Before he started reading, Jonathan asked everyone to keep a look out for him in the book, since he appears twice. One kid asked if he was the one saving Toto from the tree.
“Nope, that’s not me. I’m afraid of heights,” Jonathan told them. Pages later, the kids were excited to see pictures of Toto when rescuers found him. They laughed at him drinking out of a baby’s bottle as he recovered, before returning to Brimfield. The book ended with the final line: “No more tornadoes for me.”
After reading both “Toto the Tornado Kitten,” and “Oh Toto! Where Did You Go?” Jonathan asked a few kids some questions, and had the kids take a stab at the answers. The questions had kids guessing how old Toto is (7), how much he weighed as of that morning (11 pounds), and even how many whiskers he has. Holding the cat upside down, Jonathan had a volunteer come up and count the number of whiskers; with the help of a second volunteer, they determined that Toto had 24 whiskers.
Despite his rough beginnings, Toto the Tornado Kitten - now a full-grown tornado cat - has grown up to be one of the most well-behaved and tolerant pets around. Though he now avoids transportation via tornado, Toto seems happy to hop in the car and travel to different places to meet as many people as he can.