CANNED by Alex Shearer


Age Range: 9 - 12
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This macabre mystery may make readers give up canned foods. Fergal Banfield, an eccentric English lad with the peculiar hobby of collecting unlabelled cans from supermarket bargain bins, discovers a gold ear stud in his latest acquisition. The mystery deepens when he next discovers a severed human finger in another can. Fergal meets Charlotte, a fellow can-collector, who finds a human ear in one of her cans, and it goes with the gold stud. Fergal’s investigation leads him to a pet-food factory owned by Mr. and Mrs. Dimble-Smith. Fergal makes the grisly discovery that the factory is staffed by enslaved young children from Africa and Asia, who become ingredients of the pet food when they grow old enough to resist captivity. Pressed into service and fearing for his life, Fergal gets a message to Charlotte on a can label about his situation and location, but no one believes her story. So it’s Charlotte to the rescue! The grotesque elements of the story are more suggestive than descriptive, and Shearer’s delightfully droll, dark humor makes for many light moments. Readers with a taste for the bizarre and gross will find this tale most tasty. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-439-90309-7
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2008


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