Speaking Terms

Mary Wesley, Author Overlook Press $14.95 (128p) ISBN 978-0-87951-524-9
Life grows very interesting indeed for British sisters Kate and Angela when Kate's beloved pet bullfinch, Mr. Bull, reveals that he and all the other local birds and beasts speak fluent English. Together, the girls and Mr. Bull set out to rescue all animals from the cruelty of blood sports. The first step, of course, is to ensure peace among the animals themselves: cats must no longer hunt birds and mice, and dogs are forbidden to chase cats (it is here that the tale's logic first grows fuzzy: readers may well wonder how carnivores will survive in this newly gentle world). Next, with the help of a handful of human and animal neighbors, the girls set about warning and hiding the potential victims of hunters and fishers. Wesley's ( Haphazard House ; A Sensible Life ) skillful, atmospheric storytelling keeps readers from dwelling on such questions as why, if the animals are so smart, they have had to wait for the children to organize them. The grisly English pastimes of badger baiting and otter hunting are likely to be unfamiliar to an American audience, but this fantasy's animal-rights message comes through loud and clear. Ages 12-up. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 05/02/1994
Release date: 05/01/1994
Genre: Children's
Hardcover - 978-0-87645-041-3
Hardcover - 144 pages - 978-0-571-09047-1
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