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RAGTAG by Karl Wolf-Morgenländer


by Karl Wolf-Morgenländer

Pub Date: Aug. 17th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-547-07424-5
Publisher: Clarion Books

Standard animal warfare, awkwardly didactic but bolstered by creative city details. The Feathered Alliance, a group of various Boston bird clans, scrabbles to defend its urban territory against a band of predatory birds from the west. Narrative point of view alternates as Ragtag, a swallow, rises swiftly from semi-outcast to Alliance leader. The Talon Empire invades for two contradictory reasons: “an unquenchable lust for power,” and having recently become homeless when humans’ “loud machines, brightly colored bulldozers and whining saws…cut down the trees where the raptors dwelled.” These reasons—being “forced to seek a new home” and the desire to “enslave” city birds—simply don’t match up. Lessons are clichéd (“it’s not the size of one’s beak or claw that will win this war, but the size of one’s heart”). However, city-lovers will thrill when birds fly into the Boston Public Library and the Old South Church, hide at the Public Garden’s swan pond and catch an ear-splitting ride on the undercarriage of a subway train. For bird, battle and Boston enthusiasts. (Fantasy. 8-11)