cover image Question of Trust

Question of Trust

Marion Dane Bauer. Scholastic, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-590-47915-8

Resentful of his parents' recent separation, Brad refuses to visit his mother at her new apartment with its ``postage stamp'' of a pool, nor will he answer her Friday night calls. Bribery and bullying ``persuade'' younger brother Charlie to follow suit. Both boys are temporarily distracted from family troubles when a stray cat wanders into their lives and promptly has kittens in the backyard shed. The challenge of keeping the animals a secret from their father (who dislikes the idea of pets) grows even more complicated when the mother cat apparently kills one of the kittens. The fury Brad feels toward his own mother, deftly paralleled by his negative attitude toward the ``bad mother cat,'' provides tension throughout this contemporary story and prepares the audience for the protagonist's eventual unleashing of emotions. Bauer's ( On My Honor ) portrayal of animal abuse and unseemly aspects of animal instinct is graphic enough to make pet owners cringe; yet her ``all's well that ends well'' conclusion, in which Brad comes to terms with painful truths, will soothe disquieted readers. Ages 9-12. (Apr.)