Publisher: Poolside Press
Number of Pages: 105
Published: January 17th, 2017
Source: In exchange for an honest review, a review copy was received from the author.
Why I wanted to read this: The first book, Simple Machines was nominated in my category for the Cybils MG Speculative Fiction award last year. Simple Plans is a continuation of the series and I enjoy reading animal stories.
In Simple Machines, the animals of the forest stopped humans from advancing on their homes by destroying their machines. In the sequel, Simple Plans, Jack continued to meet with his human friend Collin, who teaches him how about wagons. Thinking a wagon would make gathering food for the animals quicker, Jack enlists Bird to help communicate to Collin. Then Jack tries to teach the other animals how a wagon will help them, but they fear humans and their tools. When Jack's friend, Rat is captured due to his continual teasing of the humans, Jack once again gathers the woodland creatures around him to save his friend.
I enjoy reading animal stories, think Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, or even Brian Jacques Redwall series of books, although Jacques' are more fantasy. One important feature for me when reading animal stories that also feature humans is that the animals aren't able to talk to the humans. Strange as it sounds, animals talking to each other is great, but when animals go speaking to humans as if they speak the same language, nope not my thing. Don't get me wrong, my cat sure does tell me what he wants, but we can't have drawn out conversations. In Simple Plans, Bennardo overcomes this factor in a unique way, by having Jack communicating with Collin through a minah Bird who by mimicking Collin's words develops the vocabulary they need to communicate with one another. Jack is one smart squirrel and a natural born leader, he sees both the dangers of humans encroaching on their homes and the advantages of working with Collin because humans have the machines that the woodland creatures need. I think both of these stories lend themselves to a classroom read aloud because of the length and the gorgeous illustrations by Cathleen Thole-Daniels, like this one of Bird and Jack learning the word for string. The length is just about right and you can tell the care the author took in her research to get the animals habits just right. I'm looking forward to donating these to the elementary school.
|Source: Illustrator's website at CathleenDaniels.com|
About the Author:
Charlotte Bennardo is the co-author of the Sirenz series (Flux) and Blonde OPS (Thomas Dunne Books), hailed as “funny and entertaining” by Booklist. She resides in New Jersey with her family and is currently hard at work fighting for chair space with her cat as she works on her next project.