Zinny Weston has been Ava’s best friend since the moment they met. There’s only one problem: Ava’s house is like a zoo, and Zinny’s idea of a pet is a fur coat. When the Westons get a fishpond in their backyard, Ava hopes Zinny might finally be turning into an animal lover. Then a raccoon starts eating the fish, and soon the rumors start flying. What did Mrs. Weston do to eliminate her raccoon trouble? Who ratted on her to the Animal Protection Agency? Drawn into a nasty battle with Zinny over who did what, Ava ...
Zinny Weston has been Ava’s best friend since the moment they met. There’s only one problem: Ava’s house is like a zoo, and Zinny’s idea of a pet is a fur coat. When the Westons get a fishpond in their backyard, Ava hopes Zinny might finally be turning into an animal lover. Then a raccoon starts eating the fish, and soon the rumors start flying. What did Mrs. Weston do to eliminate her raccoon trouble? Who ratted on her to the Animal Protection Agency? Drawn into a nasty battle with Zinny over who did what, Ava wonders: Can they ever be friends again? Talented first novelist Amy Goldman Koss blends sensitivity and humor in this thought-provoking and often hilarious novel about animal rights and friendship.
Animal lover Ava feels torn about what she should do when she hears that her best friend's mother has drowned a raccoon in a garbage can.
In her first novel, Koss (Where Fish Go in Winter) presents a memorable duo, Ava and Zinny, neighbors in a brand-new development. The fifth graders have a lot in common besides their identical houses. They share wacky senses of humor, high aspirations (Ava wants to be a singer; Zinny a costume designer) and fearless imaginations. On the other hand, Ava has one dog, a lizard, two birds, two hermit crabs, two rats and a bunny, while Zinny and her mother think that animals are "filthy" and carry disease. Trouble brews when Zinny's mother kills a raccoon that has eaten all the koi in her designer fishpond. Someone calls the Animal Protection Society and Zinny mistakenly thinks it is Ava. While Zinny and her parents come off as a little too cold-hearted (and may alienate pet owners), Ava is both convincing and charismatic, and Koss clearly knows the dynamics of middle-school friendships and how small misunderstandings can explode into war. Ava's soul-searching during her spat with Zinny raises pertinent questions about human versus animal rights. Readers' opinions may sway before the girls resolve their differences and swear "never to blame each other for the stuff that's not our fault." Ages 9-12. (June)
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-Ava has a difficult time in fifth grade until Zinny Weston moves to town. Not only is Zinny quick with a good comeback in response to a bully's insults, but she also has big dreams, just like Ava. The girls swiftly become friends: nevertheless, there is one big difference between their families that inevitably causes problems. Ava's parents are veterinarians and all three of them love animals; Zinny and her parents do not. Trouble brews when Mrs. Weston is accused of drowning a raccoon. Zinny assumes that Ava is responsible for reporting her mother to the authorities, and the girls' friendship deteriorates. Ava struggles with loneliness and with ethical issues concerning the treatment of animals. She and Zinny eventually resolve their differences in a believable way and the book ends with a rekindling of their friendship. Told in the first person, this fast-paced contemporary story has well-developed characters and typical preteen problems. Readers will enjoy meeting these characters.-Mary M. Hopf, Los Angeles Public Library
In this fast-paced, entertaining first novel, Ava learns that friendship rises above differing opinions, upbringings, and parents. Ava is thrilled when exciting Zinny moves to town—she's no longer the only new girl. The two bond instantly, but soon discover key differences: Ava keeps a veritable zoo of pets including a rabbit, a rat, a dog, and a lizard, while Zinny is not an animal person. When the rabbit eats Mrs. Weston's petunias, Ava's father, a veterinarian, and Zinny's father, animal-indifferent, exchange words, but the girls' friendship transcends the tiff. When a second misunderstanding—Mrs. Weston drowns a raccoon—tears the girls temporarily apart, their budding maturity enables them to resolve their differences, and makes their friendship stronger. Koss's charming, multilayered story blends childlike issues and feelings with larger questions about animal cruelty; she knows where to draw the line, without forcing judgment. On-target characterizations and the sentiment that friends don't have to be clones put this a cut above most friendship fare. (Fiction. 8-12)
AMY GOLDMAN KOSS is the author of several acclaimed teen novels, including The Girls, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, and Poison Ivy (available from Square Fish). She lives in Glendale, CA, with her family, and she’s on the web at www.amygoldmankoss.net.