Tuesday, May 31, 2011

SPL Shelf Life [kids]

These reviews appeared in the Stratford Gazette on May 18, 2011 
Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian

The Cats of Roxville Station, by Jean Craighead George, 163 pages.
The wild cats which lived in the vicinity of the Roxville Train Station had their own hierarchy and distinct personalities, but the mission of each was survival. When Rachet, a young female housecat, was thoughtlessly abandoned near the train station by her owner, she had to learn a number of survival skills very quickly. She observed the other feral cats living near the train station closely, learning where to find food and shelter, and learning what dangers to avoid in her new neighbourhood. She learned where to hide during downpours and blizzards, and learned to stay clear of Windy, the owl and Shifty, the fox.
Mike, a foster child living in the Roxville community, had also had to learn many things quickly at a young age. His foster mother provided him with a house in which to live, but nothing more - no guidance or love. He longed for a pet – like Rachet.
The story of Rachet, her kittens, their survival and the bond that Rachet gradually develops with Mike is heart-warming and ends happily. Jean Craighead George, who wrote The Cats of Roxville Station at 90 years of age, has infused this appealing animal story with much detail and insight about feral cats and the other wildlife that often inhabit city suburbs – owls and other birds, raccoons, foxes, and skunks. In fact, George - a prolific children’s author of such books as My Side of the Mountain - was able to write so realistically about these animals because she and her children rescued and housed many small animals over the years, learning their ways and habits. Young readers will enjoy learning about them too.
** Recommended for ages 9 to 13 years.

Won Ton, by Lee Wardlaw, 30 pages.
@ SPL:  JP Wardl
Won Ton, a new picture book by Lee Wardlaw,is the story of another feral cat. Won Ton is found and taken to an animal shelter. One day, his wish to be adopted is realized when a boy and his family take him home.
In his new home, Won Ton proves to have a “mind of his own”, as cats so often do. He sometimes answers to his name – and sometimes does not. At times he likes to hide; at other times he demands “his” boy’s total attention. He will play with whom he chooses, when he feels like doing so – and only then. He will not tolerate another cat in “his” backyard. He is extremely picky about his food. Instead of using a scratching post, he prefers the furniture – the newer, the better! He disdains his special cat bed, sleeping on a soft heap of socks or other clothing instead.
In true cat fashion, there is no doubt that Won Ton intends to retain his independence.
A unique feature of this charming tale is that it is written entirely in a series of “senyru”, which is a form of Japanese poetry very similar to haiku. Both forms of poetry are short, concise, and are used to “capture the essence of a moment”. In this book, it is the playful, ironic and mischievous nature of the cat, Won Ton, which the senyru so successfully captures. Paired with the expressive artwork of illustrator Eugene Yelchin, this title is a definite winner for cat-loving and animal-loving readers.
Author Lee Wardlaw’s other books include 101 Ways to Bug Your Parents and Dinosaur Pizza.
** Recommended for ages 4 to 7 years.

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