cover image A Room with a Zoo

A Room with a Zoo

Jules Feiffer, . . Hyperion/di Capua, $16.95 (182pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-3702-1

Feiffer's (The Man in the Ceiling ) middle-grade novel of familial love and hardship introduces Julie, the animal-loving daughter of Jules and Jenny Feiffer. While Julie's parents—particularly her mother—do not share their daughter's adulation for the animal kingdom, they do indulge her desires, as new pets file through their Upper West Side Manhattan apartment (which has nine rooms, in case one wonders what sort of abode could accommodate a cat, hamster, turtle, several fish and—briefly—the classroom rabbit, among others). However, Feiffer does not shy away from showing the less rewarding moments in pet ownership, such as a murderous goldfish that attacks smaller fish and a terrified cat that can't handle road trips. And despite the veritable pet parade, Julie is still holding out for her "big ask," the one she covets most—a dog. Although there may be little doubt that she will get one, the family grows closer through dealing with the ups and downs of pet care, and Julie herself learns some important lessons ("If I got rid of Oscar, then maybe I should be gotten rid of too. Since my parents would never do that and I was kind of Oscar's parent, how could I do it to him?"). Young animal lovers should have no trouble identifying with this spunky heroine's intense range of emotions, brought on by her menagerie. Ages 7-up. (Sept.)