The Moonlight Brigade sallies out from Ankle Snap Alley to free the local zoo’s captive creatures.
Prompted by the trapping of his mother and several alley residents to (it turns out) stock a new exhibit titled “The Urban Wild,” raccoon Kit intrepidly leads his motley crew of feral vigilantes on a nighttime rescue mission that, once he smells the miasma of fear and hears the birds’ “songs of sadness,” quickly becomes an effort to open all the cages and pens. But not every creature longs to escape the zoo’s comforts, and the quiet expedition quickly becomes a frantic life-and-death struggle. Though London’s characters do actively debate the conflicting allures of freedom and safety, he portrays the zoo as a nightmarish prison, where the habitats are painted fakes and a peaceable polar bear who elects to stay out of concern for his wild relatives is nonetheless shot at the climax by a panicked person. Ultimately the alley’s “pals of the paw” all escape, though the fates of the riddle-loving baboons, rapping mongooses, and other “animals who’d been trapped and put in a zoo” (as opposed to “zoo animals”) remain unclear. While encouraging readers to understand that “no one want[s] to be labeled by just one part of their life” is a worthy aim, embedding the conversation in the zoo-escape plot is perhaps not the most efficient way to go about it.
Agenda-driven from “howl to snap”—but with action aplenty to go with considerations of complex issues. (Animal fantasy. 10-12)