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ANIMAL HOUSE & IZ by Betty Hicks

ANIMAL HOUSE & IZ

By Betty Hicks

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: April 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-7613-1891-7
Publisher: Roaring Brook

Elizabeth, who now prefers to be called Iz, loves the chaotic life of her blended stepfamily: one part perfection—her chic, traveling mom; two parts casual—her laidback dad and stepmom Alice; three parts crazy—her three stepbrothers, Logan and the twins Joey and Jack. Her dad and Alice don’t even mind the kids’ assortment of quirky pets: cricket, chameleon, hedgehog, praying mantises, and turtle. But the pet the kids really want is a dog. They initiate the GAD Plan (Get a Dog), which involves adding weird animals and insects to the existing pets and then by losing control of them, hoping to convince their parents that one measly dog would be easier. The Plan itself quickly gets out of control when a hermit crab named Captain Hook and a parrot named Elvis join the gang (Elvis will only poop on top of Iz’s bedside lamp, on the light bulb). Further complications erupt when Iz’s mom decides to stop traveling to be at home so Iz can come live with her. Information about insects and animals are cleverly worked into the story, as are classic children’s books. Breezy, contemporary dialogue rings true; Iz’s guilt over the hedgehog dying and one of the twins being hospitalized feels real (from parrot bacteria); and the chapter titled “Exploding Bird Poop” is ripe for booktalk. How terrific to have a happy stepfamily, wholesome kids, caring parents, and a nicely resolved ending. The Simpsons-looking kids on the cover will attract attention to this upbeat, humorous, and genuine family story. (Fiction. 8-12)