Age Range: 9 - 12
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An unsubtle but absorbing story about animal rehabilitation, the state of the world, fear, achievement, and trust. When 14-year-old Shannon and her little brother Cody are sent to visit Uncle Neal for the summer, they have no idea that they’ll end up speeding around the greater Seattle area in an animal ambulance, rescuing various raccoons, beavers, bear cubs, and birds of prey that have been injured or orphaned. Adventure begins when Uncle Neal is injured by a hawk and Shannon takes over the rescues, wrestling a bear cub down from the rafters of a shed, rappelling down a cliff to rescue a seal, and talking a coyote out of an elevator in a downtown building. Cody loves the animals but continues to dream about the September 11 terrorist attacks, which he witnessed in person from a cliff in New Jersey. His subsequent obsession with disasters of all kinds exists alongside Shannon’s fear for her parents, who have gone to Pakistan and Afghanistan to help refugees, and for Uncle Neal, whom she learns has been concealing an illness. Meanwhile, Tyler, a 15-year-old boy working at the wildlife refuge, is afraid of his violent father—just as Neal has fears about Tyler himself, who previously abused animals. Messages about the precariousness of safety and life are not subtle, but the narrative takes on no more than it can handle; animals are front and center, politics are straightforward if simple, and characters are likable. A slight awkwardness regarding race is unfortunate. Seattle-specific details ensure special fans among Seattle readers as well as among wild animal enthusiasts. (author’s note) (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-68-817474-4
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2003


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