Dark's Tale

Deborah Grabien, Author . Egmont USA $15.99 (300p) ISBN 978-1-60684-037-5

A degree of anthropomorphism is unavoidable in animal stories, but Grabien, in her first novel for young readers, is less interested in getting inside the head of Dark, a housecat abandoned in Golden Gate Park, than in pushing her agenda. Despite feeling stung about being ditched, Dark finds park life relatively idyllic, with humans feeding her twice a day and friends like Rattail the raccoon and Casablanca the cat. Then comes the rumor, and eventually the reality, of invading coyotes in the park. While Dark initially sees the coyotes as inherently evil, with eyes “empty, cold as frost,” after Department of Agriculture workers kill a group of them, she realizes that humans (or at least some of them) are the real enemy. Many of Grabien's human characters share this view (“I swear to God, people are so stupid some days, I'm ashamed to be human,” is one of several guilt-laden lines). The animals understand every word the humans say, and some homeless humans can understand the animals, too, which creates plenty of opportunities for pedantic sermons disguised as dialogue. Ages 10–up. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 03/01/2010
Release date: 03/01/2010
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