cover image Gooseberry Park

Gooseberry Park

Cynthia Rylant. Harcourt Children's Books, $16 (144pp) ISBN 978-0-15-232242-7

An assortment of domesticated pets and untamed creatures band together to help a friend in need in the Newbery Medalist's rollicking animal tale. At the center is Stumpy, a squirrel who gives birth to triplets shortly before her nest in Gooseberry Park is destroyed by an ice storm. Thanks to the ingenuity of Gwendolyn, a Labrador owned by a retired professor; Kona, a wise old hermit crab; and a prankster bat named Murray, Stumpy's babies are rescued and taken to cozy quarters in the professor's basement. The problem? Having left the newborns under the care of Murray, Stumpy has wandered off for help and cannot be found. The adventures of Gwendolyn, Kona and Murray as they nurture the baby squirrels, raid the professor's cupboards and eventually devise a scheme to reunite Stumpy with her brood add up to first-rate entertainment. Readers will relish every moment of this impeccably paced fantasy and its winning depictions of the unique perspectives and quandaries of four unlikely companions. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)