cover image Smoke


Mavis Jukes, . . Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $16.95 (176pp) ISBN 978-0-374-37085-5

Animal lovers in particular will relate to Jukes's (Like Jake and Me ) novel about a 12-year-old's move from rural Idaho to an old farmstead in California. Colton is sad about leaving his grandfather and moving further away from his rodeo-rider father. But his sorrow is compounded shortly after he and his mother settle into their home, when his beloved Maine Coon cat—a gift from his father—runs away. Colton is determined to find the cat, Smoke, but his search proves more dangerous than he anticipates, leading him into the path of a cougar or maybe even a ghost. Although the dialogue isn't always convincing, it may please cowboy fans: “I just got scared witless,” says Colton's father. “Scared to death you might have got drug off somewhere.” Colton's conflicts will be relevant to preteens who have struggled with unwelcome changes. Ages 8–12. (Mar.)