cover image The Council of Animals

The Council of Animals

Nick McDonell. Holt, $25.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-250-79903-6

Journalist and novelist McDonell (An Expensive Education) imagines animals debating the fate of humanity in this exciting fable. In the aftermath of a human-caused ecological apocalypse called the Calamity, a group of animal representatives meet to debate killing the handful of remaining humans. An enraged baboon, the victim of scientific experiments, bribes a simple-minded horse into siding with the plan to eat the survivors, while a dog (who served in “the bacon wars” with an army fighting another group of humans that forbade bacon), a movie star bear, and a cat vote in favor of allowing them to live. An uninvited mouse casts a vote for the rodents; a furry, mythical aquatic beast arrives; and the baboon makes a secret pact with the cockroaches. When the votes are tallied, humans are marked for annihilation and the council adjourns to organize the assault. The cat, however, has a contingency plan and takes the bear and dog through a tunnel built by ninja moles to find a human who is rumored to speak grak (the common language of all animals). Unexpected obstacles upend their plans but set up the surprising conclusion. Dashes of humor and taut pacing elevate this appealing tale. Readers will be delighted. (July)