Friday, December 16, 2011
Howl, by Karen Hood-Caddy -Review for Feline Friday
From the back of the book:
Robin will never get over her mother's death. Nor will she forgive her father for moving the family to a small town in cottage country to live with her weird grandmother. In order to cope she decides not to care about anyone or anything. But when her dog falls through the ice and is about to drown, she realizes she cares hugely and becomes part of a dramatic rescue.
That caring leads her to rescue other animals - dogs, bears, skunks, baby raccoons, which she nurses in the barn. Soon she's running an illegal animal shelter. When her father forbids her to carry on, and the sheriff shows up to take the animals away, will she have the courage to stand up to them all and save the animals she loves?
I liked this book on a lot of levels. It obviously talked a great deal about wild animal rescue, but it also delved into Eco-living, bullying and facing your fears. And although that sounds like it covered a lot of ground for 244 pages it did it well. Non of it was broached in moralizing or preachy ways and the way the kids enthusiastically jumped from one cause to another reminded me of my energy and love of causes when I was around 12. I most certainly would have locked myself to an animal shelter to prevent needy animals from being euthanized, but since I didn't run across that issue I wrote moralizing letters to McDonald's and had my mom drive me over to the local franchise so I could drop them off with a cashier. I was going to make a difference god #%$@ it! They were ruining the rainforest!
I also raised money to buy acres of the rainforest and sold UNICEF buttons like a mad thing. 12 is a good age to start being a lobbyist, you have tonnes of energy.
I appreciated that Karen didn't dumb down the animal rescue aspect of the story. She makes no bones about how little sleep Robin, her brother Squirm and their grandmother are getting while caring for all these injured animals, and the constant danger of having the injured baby bear is regularly brought up as well. On the other hand I like that she represented it in a positive light, it's hard but rewarding work for these three as well as their friends who get involved later. Often I think the benefits of animal rescue work, of any kind, are under appreciated. The feeling of accomplishment when the animals do well under your care is what keeps people doing it, and Karen really illustrates well how fulfilled Robin and her friends and family are by their work at the Wild Place.
I came away from Howl feeling inspired to do more (can you hear the hubby groaning in the background?), so I can only imagine how inspiring it will be for middle school readers who are in the prime of their change the world years. If you have an animal loving child on your list this season definitely consider Howl, then make sure you pick them up Wild Spirits by Rosa Jordan as a follow up. You'll have a hardcore rescue enthusiast on you hands in no time.
Howl, by Karen Hood-Caddy
Published by Dundurn Press, November 2011
My copy kindly provided by Dundurn Press
Buy Howl on Amazon
Want more great animal rescue books for middle schoolers? Check out my review of Wild Spirits