A mink causes trouble in debut author Zielinski’s easy-to-read children’s series starter.
An unnamed boy introduces Fink the Mink, a “school mate” who is, oddly, the only mink in a class of human children. The narrator doesn’t directly participate in the story’s action but stiltedly states the problem up front: Fink “always gets into trouble with his naughty ways and does not give a care to what anyone has to say.” Fink cuts the playground line, hogs the swing, bumps Johnny on the seesaw, and dismantles and destroys the slide before Miss Sue, the teacher, finally catches him in the act. “Miss Sue asked what happened and he replied with a fib, ‘It was those kids over there!’ but Miss Sue already knew what he did.” Quirkily drawn Miss Sue, easily the most appealing character in the story, benches Fink for the rest of the day. However, the story might have been more empowering for young readers if the children had a hand in solving the problem. Fink the Mink doesn’t learn anything from his experience; sitting on the bench with an evil smirk, he looks like he’s plotting further crimes. The young narrator reappears to spell out the moral at the end: “If you have learned one thing today it should be to treat your friends the same way you want to be treated when it’s your turn to play.” However, other books, such as Laura Keller’s Do Unto Otters (2009), offer the Golden Rule in more palatable form. Here, the text often seems twisted to fit an unsuccessful rhythm and rhyme scheme, and its prose format doesn’t help matters. Also, although Fink isn’t the viewpoint character, he overshadows the narrator. Future books in this series might benefit from a more relatable main character and prose that doesn’t rhyme but instead mirrors the way real kids talk.
An awkwardly executed playground tale for a young audience.