Thursday, October 06, 2011

Animal Books

Blom, Jen K. Possum Summer.
Nominated for the Cybils by Astrid P Mochtarram ; copy received from the author.
P. (short for Princess, which she hates), saves a small possum when her father's dog, Blackie, kills its' mother. With the help of her friend Mart, she manages to keep it alive, feeding it, massaging it so it can eliminate waste, and carrying it to school with her inside her sports bra! There are other problems that P. is having, however. School is a constant struggle for her. Her father has been injured in Iraq, and she has promised to keep their Oklahoma farm in good shape until he comes back. Several tragedies occur with the animals, and she tries to make the best decisions she can. She also knows that she can't keep the possum forever, even though she would desperately like a pet. Preparing for her father to come home, P. tries to get everything pulled together.
Strengths: There has been a resurgence in interest in books about animals. Like Nuts, this is a realistic portrayal of the difficulties in caring for a wild animal.
Weaknesses: Holiday House did not do the author justice with the formatting of the book. The cover looks like something from 1987, and the type is far too small for the target demographic.

Barrow, Randi. Saving Zasha.
Nominated for the Cybils by Margo Tanenbaum.
Russia at the end of WWII was a perilous place to be, especially for German types of dogs. When Mikhail finds a dying man and his German shepherd near his house, he gets help. The man dies, and Mikhail begs to be allowed to keep the dog, Zasha, safe, because he knows that soldiers will shoot the dog otherwise. He manages to keep this secret even with the prying of the daughter of the local newspaper man prying into his business. When he finds out that Dmitri, a former soldier, has a refuge for dogs and is trying to breed a "Russian" dog to help replace the thousands of dogs that were killed in the war, he is reluctant to turn the pregnant Zasha over until it becomes too dangerous to take care of her himself.
Strengths: Always looking for books on different facets of WWII. I had no idea that so many dogs were used by the military, or that so many were killed. The historical note at the end is helpful.
Weaknesses: Students looking for books about war usually wan
Publish Post
t a bit more excitement. While the problems at the end are suspenseful, this could have used more action at the beginning.

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