Age Range: 10 - 12
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From Jennings (Faith and the Rocket Cat, 1998, etc.), a quirky tale of two grebes with very different characters. Last of his clutch to hatch, Putnam responds to his mother’s neglect by teaching himself to dive, feed and, after the rest of the family departs unnoticed, fly. Seeing the world as a scary, dangerous place, he dives into a strange pond and, pulled by a deep current into an underwater cave, makes no effort to find a way out. In fact, the cave is filled with grebes, all huddled on ledges, unspeaking. Into this lightless, cheerless place splashes chatty, social, adventuresome Pennyroyal Grebe who, despite her best efforts to get acquainted, is so determinedly shunned by all that she begins to pine away. Finally, Putnam breaks ranks to feed her, and then to look for escape. Presenting this as a tale told to a feisty, skeptical nine-year-old, Jennings insists that there’s no lesson here, although thoughtful readers, like the child, will see through that claim. His story-within-the-story ends with Pennyroyal gone and Putnam still nerving himself to follow, but the child supplies a happy ending. Readers expecting an animal adventure along the lines of Avi’s, or Dick King-Smith’s, will be underwhelmed by this chewy allegory. (b&w illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-439-07965-9
Page count: 163pp
Publisher: Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1999