THE MEANEST HOUND AROUND

Fluffy, sweet, and well-bred, Freddy find himself suddenly homeless when his boy’s father decides to dump him out in the woods far from home. Freddy is not the sort of dog that one would expect to be wandering the roads out in the middle of nowhere and he’s not prepared for the rude welcome that he receives at the junkyard where he goes to find food and shelter. With snapping jaws and a ferocious bark, Spike launches himself at the fence only to find that Freddy is not frightened, only confused at the little dog’s reaction. Talking with him, Freddy realizes that he is Spike’s only hope if he’s to escape the dirty junkyard and the cruelty of his master and the first junkyard dog, Tiger. Together they manage to break Spike out of his prison; meet many amazing forest creatures; and eventually find a new family. Their adventures do not end there, as the two friends must somehow find a way to help Spike to find his trust in people and other animals again. Gently written with a sweetness that does not give way to saccharinity, this will find a home in any dog-lover’s heart. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-7434-3785-3

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2003

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Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to...

ESCAPE FROM BAXTERS' BARN

A group of talking farm animals catches wind of the farm owner’s intention to burn the barn (with them in it) for insurance money and hatches a plan to flee.

Bond begins briskly—within the first 10 pages, barn cat Burdock has overheard Dewey Baxter’s nefarious plan, and by Page 17, all of the farm animals have been introduced and Burdock is sharing the terrifying news. Grady, Dewey’s (ever-so-slightly) more principled brother, refuses to go along, but instead of standing his ground, he simply disappears. This leaves the animals to fend for themselves. They do so by relying on their individual strengths and one another. Their talents and personalities match their species, bringing an element of realism to balance the fantasy elements. However, nothing can truly compensate for the bland horror of the premise. Not the growing sense of family among the animals, the serendipitous intervention of an unknown inhabitant of the barn, nor the convenient discovery of an alternate home. Meanwhile, Bond’s black-and-white drawings, justly compared to those of Garth Williams, amplify the sense of dissonance. Charming vignettes and single- and double-page illustrations create a pastoral world into which the threat of large-scale violence comes as a shock.

Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to ponder the awkward coincidences that propel the plot. (Animal fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-33217-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS

This is rather a silly story, and I don't believe children will think it particularly funny. A paper hanger and painter finds time on his hands in winter, and spends it in reading of arctic exploration. It is all given reality when he receives a present of a penguin, which makes its nest in the refrigerator on cubes of ice, mates with a lonely penguin from the zoo, and produces a family of penguins which help set the Poppers on their feet.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1938

ISBN: 978-0-316-05843-8

Page Count: 139

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1938

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