Kirkus Reviews QR Code
TALKING IN ANIMAL by Terry Farish

TALKING IN ANIMAL

By Terry Farish

Age Range: 10 - 13

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-688-14671-6
Publisher: Greenwillow/HarperCollins

 A wry, engaging study in mixed feelings from the author of Shelter For A Seabird (1990). Change is in the air, and Siobhan Hannah, 11, doesn't much like it; not only has a new family, the Graces, moved into the cottage she had earmarked as a future collie kennel, but Mr. Grace is about to marry her older friend, Maddy, and she finds herself really having to struggle to dislike Mr. Grace's daughter, Lester. Worse, her mother and Maddy have come down on different sides of the hot debate over condom dispensers in the high school. Most worrisome of all, Siobhan's beloved constant companion, Tree, a huge Lab/Newfoundland mix, is slowly losing the use of his back legs. In spare conversations and observations, Farish artfully captures the changeable weather of Siobhan's emotional landscape: denial and acceptance, anger and resignation, joy and despair, in shifting combinations. Subplots--including Siobhan's and Lester's efforts to find out what a condom is, and their encounters with Olivia, a barefoot children's librarian always in the midst of a crafts program--lighten the mood, as do the Hannahs' closeness and appealingly quirky family rituals. In the end, Siobhan does what needs to be done--with Lester, with Maddy, and, sadly, with Tree. As was true of Farish's Why I'm Already Blue (1989), readers sensitive to nuance will find this replete with small surprises and grace notes. (Fiction. 10-13)