Animal Rescue Team Series by Sue Stauffacher

45489391Lynn: How about these ingredients: fascinating animals, an urban animal rescue team, a group of resourceful kids and a lively family? Yup, cannot miss for kid appeal. Add well-written stories based on actual events and you’ve got a winner of a new series for middle grade readers. I read Gator on the Loose! (Random/Knopf, May 2010) and was hooked right away. This first book in the series begins as Keisha Carter, age 10, takes a call for help to the family business, Carter Urban Rescue headed up by Keisha’s veterinarian father. There is an alligator in the city swimming pool – not exactly a common occurrence in cold Michigan! Once the relatively small Pumpkin-Petunia is rescued they have to figure out what to do with her – especially after she escapes from the family’s upstairs bathtub! The engaging cast of characters includes Keisha’s brothers, five-year-old Razi and baby Paulo, her parents, and friends. I especially like Keisha’s grandmother who worries about avoiding an OL (old lady) wardrobe and who has a track record of letting animals escape while getting distracted. There’s plenty of humor and the interesting characters, intriguing situations and well-integrated animal information made this book a fun start for a promising series. The Carter family is multi-racial, presented matter-of-factly rather than as an issue in the story, something I really appreciated.

Sue Stauffacher is a Grand Rapids author and it was the story of an alligator in a local swimming pool that sparked her idea for this story. While doing research she discovered the Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary, a real sanctuary in Michigan, that plays a role in the story. The focus group and I clearly have a to make a road trip there this summer!

special-deliveryCindy: I want to go too! I’m not sure that I believe Lynn that we have an alligator sanctuary in Michigan, so I have to see that place. I read the second installment of this new series, Special Delivery (Knopf, July 2010) and like the same elements Lynn did. The story wasn’t quite as funny as I expected it to be, but the animal care information is solid and the family is refreshingly devoid of dysfunction. Everyone is supportive of each other and pitches in to help in this busy household. A friend just drove her daughter an hour to deliver an injured baby squirrel to a wildlife rescue center and this is just the book that she would be interested in. There are lots of stories about kids and their pets, but very few about kids who care about wild animals that need help. The title of this one is from a baby crow that was rescued and left in a mailbox but the skunk storyline had my attention. It reminded me of a very nerve-wracking camping trip to Watkins Glen State Park in New York a number of years ago. As night fell, the campground started to get noisy with shriek after shriek. And then the skunk walked through our campsite and we added to the din. There were multiple skunks who wandered the camp after dark looking for food. We never smelled a spray the whole week, but it was unsettling to have skunks try to join us for s’mores.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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