"A moving narrative with a distinct point of view. Laugh-out-loud moments balance the heavy with the humorous. Niche but surprisingly fascinating." — Kirkus Reviews
"An engaging coming-of-age tale for the environmentally minded tween." — School Library Journal
"A self-aware seventh grader with a roadkill researcher mother ruminates on life, maturation, and decomposition in this jam-packed observational novel from O’Donnell Tubb." — Publishers Weekly
"Roadkill is an unconventional basis for a novel, but it turns out to be the perfect jumping-off point for a poignant, playful exploration of deep family ties, the joy of kindred spirits, and the importance of conservation. [A]ll readers will be rewarded with a frank and funny examination of decay—and the new life it encourages." — Booklist Online
"The Decomposition of Jack is a delightful romp through rot, roadkill, and human healing.” — Heather L. Montgomery, author of Something Rotten: A Fresh Look at Roadkill
"The Decomposition of Jack is full of heart and humor and big questions to ponder. I absolutely loved it!" — Lisa Greenwald, author of Dear Friends and the TBH series
"This book is disgusting—and I mean that as a compliment! It’s also hilarious, heartfelt and hopeful. The Decomposition of Jack guarantees that readers will never look at roadkill the same way again!" — Margaret Peterson Haddix, New York Times bestselling author of the Greystone Secrets series
Praise for Zeus, Dog of Chaos: "Readers who have always wondered what their pets are really thinking will love this cleverly written story from the perspective of Zeus, a German Shepherd service dog. Young readers who love dogs, play an instrument in band, or have experience with invisible illness will relate to Madden and his desire to just be a regular middle-school kid." — School Library Journal
Praise for A Dog Like Daisy: “Daisy’s wry comments on human foibles and eccentricities...combine to paint a moving picture of suffering and, ultimately, redemption. Daisy is distinctive and memorable, and this depiction of PTSD is useful, making this a fine, compelling tale.” — Kirkus Reviews
“Avid canine lovers will surely appreciate the intimate look at Daisy’s yearning for purpose. The focus on . . . service dogs should enlighten readers about the ways our four-legged companions function as more than just pets. A poignant animal tale, and a strong addition to most collections.” — School Library Journal
“Daisy’s voice is strong, painting a world with canine synesthesia: happy days are yellow, untruths taste like turkey bacon. With joint appeal to children of soldiers and dog-lovers, this is likely to find a broad audience.” — Booklist Online
Gr 5 Up—Tubbs's latest middle grade novel (following A Dog Like Daisy and Zeus, Dog of Chaos) departs from dog narration and introduces readers to seventh grader Jack Acosta, also known as "Jack Splat." Jack is learning to live with his parents' divorce while helping his mom with her career studying roadkill and its decomposition (hence the nicknames, which also include "Roadkill Kid"). He is also providing feedback on his best friend's comics and figuring out how to get the attention of his crush, "Algebra Green Eyes," who happens to head the school's conservation club. Although he's a scientist, Jack finds himself in danger of failing earth science; but he may be able to turn things around if he can prove that cougars are not extinct, because there's one living in the woods behind his house. Heavy themes of divorce and extinction loom large, but Tubb offers humorous moments and a caring mother-son relationship to balance them. Animal lovers and budding conservationists will be especially drawn to the ongoing mystery of whether cougars still live in Tennessee. An author's note provides further information about roadkill collectors and cougars. VERDICT An engaging coming-of-age tale for the environmentally minded tween.—Carrie Voliva
A parent-child duo collect and research roadkill.
Tennessee middle schooler Jack Acosta can handle maggots, blood, and intestines. But the “stench of decay” involved in transporting carcasses (his scientist mother studies decomposition) is a big nope. Between being called “Roadkill Kid,” his mom and dad’s divorce, and extracurricular “roadkill undertaking,” Jack has a lot going on. In spite of the “work, work, work,” Jack finds time to hang out with his best friend, André, and fret over his budding friendship with his crush, Zoe. A live cougar’s surprise appearance in the backyard “Roadkill Garden” inspires Jack to research the species—one that has been declared extinct in the state—for a school report. His mom sees the cougar as a “data nightmare,” but to Jack, it’s a call to action. Tubb, known for humorous dog books, diverges from her oeuvre to deliver a moving narrative with a distinct point of view. Jack’s references to the stages of the decomposition process as he grapples with his parents’ divorce offer unique parallels to grieving. Laugh-out-loud moments balance the heavy with the humorous. The strong conservationist message and assignment-based structure, however, make the story a bit bloated. Race and ethnicity aren’t explicitly stated; some cues suggest possible diversity (e.g., Zoe’s mom wears a headscarf).
Niche but surprisingly fascinating. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)