Friday, December 22, 2017

Animal Inn: A Furry Fiasco by Paul Dubois Jacobs, illustrated by Jennifer Swender

Usually, if I really can't find a book in our consortium and borrow it from inter-library loan, it turns out that there's a reason it wasn't owned by any of our member libraries (we have over twenty with more joining next year). However, every once in a while I find an overlooked gem and that's what I've found today.

Leopold Augustus Gonzalo Tyler is the narrator of this series and also happens to be a scarlet macaw. He and Dash, the family's Tibetan Terrier, are the original members of the Tyler family but now there are twin boys, a little girl, an adopted chocolate lab, two gerbils, and sibling cats. Naturally, at some point in this accumulation they no longer fit in their city apartment so Mom and Dad Tyler moved the whole menagerie to an old house in the country which now functions as a pet boarding, school, and spa location. There are always interesting animals showing up and lots of excitement. Maybe a little too much!

Just a few weeks ago, there was a major furry fiasco! First, Cassie (the little girl of the Tyler family) is excited about a wizard coming to stay - and a real, live dragon! Leopold and the other animals start panicking. Well, not Coco the lab - she doesn't have a very long attention span and keeps getting distracted by food. But Shadow and Whiskers, the cats, are very, very scared and Leopold and Dash know it's up to them to protect the family, with the spying help of Fuzzy and Furry, who are skilled at escaping from their gerbiltorium.

There are quite a few tense moments until it turns out that there's no wizard - but there is a dragon! A komodo dragon to be precise! The animals remain wary but make friends and Miss KD manages to relax and have a good time until she's taken off to her new home at the zoo.

Humorous black and white pictures dot the book, although the drawing of Coco isn't a chocolate lab (the ears are too long and the wrong shape). The gerbils are delightful though and the animals' personalities shine through.

Verdict: There are plenty of animal stories about there; I just read another one about a boarding kennel recently. However, the mix of animals, animal protagonists, and sense of humor make this one stand out. If you're looking for new beginning chapter book series, especially featuring animals, I recommend this one. There are currently four titles available with a fifth coming in May 2018.

ISBN: 9781481462235; Published 2016 by Aladdin/Simon and Schuster; Borrowed via inter-library loan

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