Steadfast animal lovers might be willing to overlook Trout’s inconsistent tone, but he’s unlikely to garner a wide audience.




A seasoned veterinarian shares some memorable cases.

With several decades of experience as a veterinary surgeon, the author has seen his share of animal emergencies, which he now structures as parts of one fictional day, a tactic that detracts from, rather than adds to, the urgency of his narrative. It begins at 2:47 a.m., when Trout is roused out of bed to perform emergency stomach surgery on Sage, a ten-year-old German shepherd who is the sole companion of an aging widower. Next up is a particularly unusual case, a hermaphroditic boxer named Thor who has begun secreting female hormones. Later in the morning the vet helps a family decide whether or not to put a beloved pet to sleep. This sparks a lively discussion of euthanasia, a high point in the book. A 40-pound cat aptly named Chunky Bear inspires Trout’s musings on canine and feline obesity, an epidemic nearly as dire as the same among humans. Just past noon, the vet acquires David, a tag-along “shadow” with veterinary aspirations from a nearby high school, and enters the world of small animal plastic surgery. With Tinkerbell, Trout is cleaning up scar tissue from an earlier cancer surgery, but her case causes him to pause and pontificate on more cosmetic procedures, such as ear cropping and tail docking, which he opposes. Later in the afternoon, he embarks on a canine hip replacement. Finally, he ends his day with a cat named Snowball, who managed to swallow one of her own teeth. Trout brings up some interesting ethical issues, but readers looking for a heart-warmer will be bored by these tangents, and intellectuals will feel belittled by the tongue-in-cheek prose and frenetic pacing.

Steadfast animal lovers might be willing to overlook Trout’s inconsistent tone, but he’s unlikely to garner a wide audience.

Pub Date: March 11, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-7679-2643-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2008

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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