A Prickly Problem

illus. by Jennifer L. Meyer. 112p. (Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet: Bk. 4). Holt. Apr. 2018. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781627798754; pap. $6.99. ISBN 9781250177193.
Gr 2–5—It's early autumn in 1901 in Fentress, TX, and the Tate family is getting ready to go back to school. After a trip into town, the Tates notice that Father's prized bird-dog Ajax had slipped his leash. When he comes home, he has a snout full of porcupine quills. Dr. Pritzker is called for, and Ajax is soon put to rights. Most dogs would learn from a snout full of quills, but Ajax is not most dogs; when Calpurnia is out one morning with Ajax he manages to once again get into a scuffle with a porcupine—this time getting a mean dose of quills numbering in the hundreds. With no adults around to help, Calpurnia must rely on her own knowledge and instincts. As with previous installments, this title embeds scientific and veterinary terms, time and place are set out clearly, and Calpurnia is shown as a strong and independent girl who stands up for her friends and tries to do the right thing. This series could benefit from a glossary for the more challenging vocabulary.
VERDICT Another strong entry in this well-written and engaging series. Purchase where the previous titles circulate well or for collections in need of historical fiction for young readers.

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