Eleven-year-old Princess desperately wants a pet, but her father says animals on a farm must earn their keep.
With her dad away in Iraq, her mother busy with work and her older half-sister Monica busy being 16, “P” (which she prefers over Princess) tries to make the cow-herding dog Blackie a pet, but he won’t listen to her. When Blackie kills a possum, P finds it was a mother and adopts the surviving baby despite her father’s rule. With the help of her best friend Mart, P keeps “Ike” a secret from teachers and family while trying to teach him to be a wild possum (since her wounded father will be home soon). With rabies running rampant in the Oklahoma countryside and catastrophes coming fast and furious, can P do right by her charge and keep the farm ready for her father’s return? Blom’s debut is a run-of-the-mill wild-animal–as-pet tale, though the deployed-father element makes it plenty relevant today. There’s a slight disconnect between the vocabulary used to relate this folksy story and the first-person narrator’s difficulties in school and with letter writing, but P is a feisty, honest country gal.
Readers with a hankering for a modern, Midwest animal tale could do worse. (Fiction. 8-11)