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The Engineer of Beasts

The Engineer of Beasts

by Scott Russell Sanders

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
From the author of Bad Man Ballad comes this terrific fantasy . Sanders takes readers on a whirlwind tour of a future Earth, where cities are domed for protection against the deadly environment and the only animals are machines in the local ``disneys,'' or mechanized zoos. Orlando Spinks runs his father's disney. Life has a pleasant sameness to it until Mooch (age 12, product of a test-tube experiment and chronic truant from the Home for Little Wanderers) disappears into the lion's mouth. Orlando is captivated by Mooch's vibrancy, her originality and creative genius for mechanicals, and she becomes his apprentice and surrogate grandchild. Together they turn the disney into a replica of the long-gone real environment, but this leads to disaster, with imprisonment for both. Orlando's machines are taken away, and he is forced into fixing broken appliances as penance, and Mooch is sent to the Cape Cod ``refarmatory'' where she is analyzed by a bemused psychiatrist who can't understand her simple-minded love for real animals. Yet this is the beginning of real life for Mooch and Orlando, for it is the force of Mooch's dream to return to the real world that both overwhelms and then expands their lives. Beautifully written, this book is alternately funny and poignant and filled with memorable characters. A Richard Jackson Book. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up When most humans have retreated into domed regimented cities to escape the poisoned air and rising seas, 71-year-old Orlando lives in New Boston, a floating city off Cape Cod. As the proprietor of a ``disney,'' a mechanical zoo, he constantly creates new beasts, using robots in the skins of long-dead creatures. Then a 13-year-old girl, Mooch, the offspring of two germ cells from eminent scientists joined in a glass dish, bursts into his life. Becoming his apprentice, she uses her skill as a mechanic to transform the beasts from tame toys to creatures as wild as their living namesakes. Up to this point the story moves with gathering momentum as readers await the inevitable clash with the Overseers. It has a gritty strength and appeal, with humor that tempers the bleakness of the characters' situations. Once Mooch tries to lead the animals in a wild dash to freedom and is sent to the ``Refarmatory,'' things change for the worse in terms of plot and character. Mooch is convincing as an explosive force on a collision course with the world; as a young woman searching for her own identity she is not. Her vision quest and reconciliation with Orlando lack the power of earlier events. Sanders' older characters have an authority that his younger ones lack. He is a skilled writer well able to challenge and intrigue his readers, but he is still seeking his own level. Ruth S. Vose, San Francisco Public Library

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
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Age Range:
12 Years

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