cover image The Stray

The Stray

Dick King-Smith. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $16 (139pp) ISBN 978-0-517-70934-4

This cozy, old-fashioned novel from the author of Babe: The Gallant Pig is the literary equivalent of milk and cookies. Henny Hickathrift, age 75, wakes up one morning and decides to run away from home, or, ""to be more accurate... from the Home--the old age home where she lived."" Spending all her savings on a first-class train ticket and an unwholesome breakfast, she arrives at an English seaside village, where no sooner does she pronounce herself a ""stray"" than the five Good siblings (who might have wandered in from an E. Nesbit novel) take her under their collective wing. Henny quickly joins their household, becoming a cherished member of the aptly named family. Similar wordplay laces the narrative, which also includes Henny's rescue of another stray (a dog) and a lottery (which Henny wins). While not for kids who insist on action-heavy plots, the book will endear itself to readers in search of low-key but big-hearted diversion. Ages 7-11. (Aug.)