Age Range: 12 & up
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 From acclaimed novelist Mary Wesley (Haphazard House, 1993) comes this smug, obnoxious YA novel set in the contemporary English countryside. Kate is given a bullfinch by her big sister Angela; one day, Kate learns that the pet--called Mr. Bull--and all the other animals she comes in contact with are actually able to talk. But rather than maximizing the marvelous juxtaposition between the well-observed realism with which Kate's life is described and the magical possibilities offered by a world in which all the animals, domesticated and feral, speak a perfectly comprehensible and even witty English, Wesley just glosses over this marvel to present a plodding, quasi-morality play about animal rights. The plot--which involves getting all the animals to warn other species about upcoming hunts and so forth--is muddled to the point of utter tedium. Eventually Kate and Angela's parents and various adult members of the community are drawn into the struggle, as are a pair of neighboring children, Andrew and James. But none of the characters comes to life; most interesting is Mr. Bull, who is unfortunately confined to saying and doing very little. Despite its delicious premise, Speaking Terms is a crashing bore. Readers will turn away long before the end, which is confusing and wholly without dramatic import. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-87951-524-4
Page count: 128pp
Publisher: Overlook
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1994