Talking in Animal

Overview

Siobhan prefers dogs to people and her dream is to raise collies at her pretend Painter Hill Kennel. But she discovers that she and her only human friend, Maddy, and the new girl, Lester, can talk about cats, dogs, and wolves--talking in animal very clearly about love, loss and courage in this heartfelt novel.

The arrival of new neighbors threatens to bring irreparable change to the steady life of eleven-year-old Siobhan, a loner who spends all her time with her dog ...

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1996-10-31 Hardcover New 1996, Greenwillow, HB. Faint indentations to dustjacket else new, unread condition.

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Slobhan's Newfoundlandland Lab mix, Tree seems to be the only one who understands her.

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Overview

Siobhan prefers dogs to people and her dream is to raise collies at her pretend Painter Hill Kennel. But she discovers that she and her only human friend, Maddy, and the new girl, Lester, can talk about cats, dogs, and wolves--talking in animal very clearly about love, loss and courage in this heartfelt novel.

The arrival of new neighbors threatens to bring irreparable change to the steady life of eleven-year-old Siobhan, a loner who spends all her time with her dog Tree and a religious activist who rehabilitates hurt wild animals.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Siobhan feels closer to her ailing dog, Tree, than to any of the hard-to-understand humans in her life. The New Hampshire girl spends her days fantasizing about the dog kennel she'll have one day, and also helps a neighbor, Maddy, take care of injured wildlife. Suddenly, Maddy throws two curve ballsshe's getting married, and her born-again Christian beliefs put her drastically at odds with Siobhan's vocal mother over the issue of distributing condoms at the high school. After conflict escalates and Tree gets sicker, a desperate Siobhan takes the only action she knows to get people's attention and give her dog one last adventure. Farish (Shelter for a Seabird) has an idiosyncratic and sophisticated way of writing that takes some getting used tothe pauses, half-uttered phrases and confusing thoughts are closer to how people really communicate than the polished cadences more typically found in novels. The condom plot might offend some, but it is realistically dealt withthe 11-year-old Siobhan is more interested in whether a condom could be used as a balloon than in its political or anatomical implications. And the ending will leave not a dry eye in the house. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)
VOYA - Helen Turner
Like many eleven-year-olds, Siobhan lives in a world that is part fantasy, and much of the fantasy involves her dog Tree. She trains him for competitions he can never win because he is a Labrador-Newfoundland mix, but she just knows an exception would be make for Tree. She draws plans for Painter Hill Kennel which she will build and operate on the land across the road. There she will raise prize collies. She dreams of living alone, of wearing bright espadrilles like her older sister Brandee, and she pretends Tree doesn't have trouble climbing stairs and that his hind legs are still strong. Her best friend is Maddy Todd, a woman who cares for injured and abandoned animals and birds. Dr. Hannah, Siobhan's father, rents the cottage on Siobhan's kennel land to Mr. Grace who moves in with his daughter Lester and son Nathan. Mr. Grace has come to marry Maddy. Lester and Siobhan become friends, and the portrayal of this relationship is on the mark, as is the picture of Olivia, the perceptive and energetic librarian. Siobhan comes to accept Tree's worsening condition, and she and her father take him to the vet to be put down, a realistic and heart-breaking scene. Tree is gone; Maddy, attended by Lester and Siobhan, does marry Mr. Grace; and the school board votes against making condoms available in their schools. This is a quiet, funny story about a really great kid who moves from fantasy to reality naturally and easily and most believably. Everything here-the condom battle, Siobhan's non-cooking mother and her little brother Magic Man, "Eulogy on the Dog," running away-fits just right. VOYA Codes: 5Q 4P M J (Hard to imagine it being any better written, Broad general YA appeal, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8 and Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9).
Children's Literature - Mary Sue Preissner
Things are changing in Siobhan's life and talking to animals about her worries is far easier than talking to any human. The new girl, Lester, seeks her out, but she's not so sure she is ready to be friends with anyone her own age. Her mother and Maddy are at odds over school issues. Her sister is, well, a sister. Tree, her faithful dog, is the only one around who understands her. But Tree is changing in ways that Siobhan does not want to acknowledge. In this tale of loss, love and facing fears, Siobhan learns she can trust in others.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-The summer of Siobhan's 12th birthday is one of pain, confusion, and learning about loss and caring. The girl's beloved dog is suffering from a progressive neurological disease. Her best adult friend, Maddy Todd, a fellow animal lover, is getting married. A new girl in the neighborhood, insists on following Siobhan as if they were friends. And her New Hampshire town is torn into two camps-one led by Maddy and the other by her mother-over the issue of condom distribution in school. The elements for a good coming-of-age plot are all here. What detracts from their full realization is the disjointed narrative style. A cross between stream-of-consciousness and linear narrative, the story skips from thought to action to thought in a seemingly random way. What results are gaps in both, and readers are forced to either guess or simply not fully understand what is happening. Difficult as this makes following the plot, it makes understanding the feelings and development of the characters even harder. Readers gain only a surface glimpse at the turmoil within Siobhan's mind and heart, and therefore are unlikely to be moved by it. Likewise, Siobhan's relationships with her family, with the exception of her younger brother, are so sketchily drawn that readers are left with a vague feeling that they are empty ones. Despite the stylistic problems, Farish handles the questions of friendship, respect for a variety of opinions and beliefs, and coming to terms with change with sensitivity and objectivity.-Wendy D. Caldiero, New York Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
A wry, engaging study in mixed feelings from the author of Shelter For A Seabird (1990). Change is in the air, and Siobhan Hannah, 11, doesn't much like it; not only has a new family, the Graces, moved into the cottage she had earmarked as a future collie kennel, but Mr. Grace is about to marry her older friend, Maddy, and she finds herself really having to struggle to dislike Mr. Grace's daughter, Lester. Worse, her mother and Maddy have come down on different sides of the hot debate over condom dispensers in the high school. Most worrisome of all, Siobhan's beloved constant companion, Tree, a huge Lab/Newfoundland mix, is slowly losing the use of his back legs.

In spare conversations and observations, Farish artfully captures the changeable weather of Siobhan's emotional landscape: denial and acceptance, anger and resignation, joy and despair, in shifting combinations. Subplots—including Siobhan's and Lester's efforts to find out what a condom is, and their encounters with Olivia, a barefoot children's librarian always in the midst of a crafts program—lighten the mood, as do the Hannahs' closeness and appealingly quirky family rituals. In the end, Siobhan does what needs to be done—with Lester, with Maddy, and, sadly, with Tree. As was true of Farish's Why I'm Already Blue (1989), readers sensitive to nuance will find this replete with small surprises and grace notes.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688146719
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/1/1996
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 148
  • Age range: 10 years
  • Product dimensions: 6.25 (w) x 9.33 (h) x 0.70 (d)

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