FICTION

My Best Friend Is Extinct

Orca. Mar. 2021. 240p. pap. $10.95. ISBN 9781459824423.
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Gr 3-5–In this heavily illustrated middle grade novel, a young white boy named Henry struggles to fit in after moving to a Canadian mountain town. The area is experiencing the snowiest winter in memory, and it’s rumored a new ice age is beginning. The kids at school take advantage of the weather to construct rival snow forts and prepare for an epic recess battle. Meanwhile, Henry discovers a group of bearlike creatures long believed extinct. He must convince his skeptical classmates to help him save the bears from a pack of saber-toothed cats. Li’s illustrations add much to this novel, illuminating character and setting descriptions. A helpful map is also included. The story is engaging and will draw in readers. However, some of the characters are written less realistically than others. Henry’s mother barely seems angry after he runs away, and she entertains ideas that most parents wouldn’t even consider, like letting him ride along on her late-night snowplow route. It also seems unlikely that schoolchildren would have the patience to spend weeks constructing snow forts and gathering snowballs before starting a battle. Despite these shortcomings, this is an intriguing look at what might happen if an ice age began today, and a heartwarming tale of finding home.
VERDICT A fun addition to fiction collections for early middle grade readers.

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