A seventh-grader’s play chronicles the rise and demise of a kidnapping plot and the contradictory motives of the conspirators.
In three acts, with scenes that leap back and forth in time, Olive Henry describes a conspiracy to kidnap Edmund Farley Middle School's live mascot, a capybara. The original goal, for Olive and her flamboyant best friend, Reynaldo Delgado, was to earn a reward for the mascot’s return: equal treatment for all students in their sports-happy school. But, as Olive explains to new student Devin Bevins, they were joined and betrayed by Pablo Fuentes, secretly a baseball player wanna-be, and animal rights activist Gabrielle “Brie” Greenberg. Perl makes humor out of middle school traditions and even out of Brie’s animal rights organization (the Pony and Capybara Dignity League), but she’s also making important points about the treatment of both animals and middle school students. The narrative begins as Olive describes the recent events to Dev but quickly flashes back to depict the events, concluding with a scene that will leave readers wondering just how real her “play” might be. As a novel presented as a script, this also includes extensive staging notes as well as a wide-ranging bibliography. The author dedicates the book to Lin-Manuel Miranda and, though the only specific ethnic diversity indicated is Latino, explicitly encourages "inclusive" casting—for the human roles, anyway.
Humorous and cleverly constructed, this deserves a “hoof five.” (Fiction. 10-14)