THE OLD MEADOW by George Selden


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Continuing the saga of Chester, A Cricket in Times Square (Newbery Honor Book), who now lives in Connecticut, Selden describes the attempted eviction of Abner Budd, the old hermit, and his dog, Dubber, from their shack in the Old Meadow, where peace has reigned since the animals' truce among themselves. A visiting mockingbird, Ashley, charms everyone with his song--even, after a tussle, J.J. Bluejay, whom he teaches to trill sweetly. When Malvina Irvin gets Abner arrested and Dubber impounded on trumped-up charges, the animals organize a rescue followed by a 24-hour songfest and vigil featuring Ashley's glorious music--which (somewhat inexplicably) causes a change of heart among the humans, who decide that Abner is natural and irreplaceable and should therefore be preserved as he is, with the addition of power and indoor plumbing. (Abner's not an endangered species, because ""If one old man was an endangered species--then everyone is."") Selden's prose has moments of lyrical charm, and his gentle, wry philosophy can be engaging, but his story meanders and the plot is growing a little thin. The book is marred by unreconstructed male chauvinism: the only females who appear are Malvina and a shrewish pheasant, both bit players. Still, fans will want to know what happens.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1987
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux