Title:  Cats at the CampgroundCats-at-the-Campgroun
Author: Ben M. Baglio
Pages: 132
Reading Level: 8-12
Star Rating: ★★

Animal Ark!

The Story.

Mandy and James are all caught up in their newest animal-rescuing project. This one? Rescuing a half wild cat and her newborn kittens from starvation. But before they can begin to lavish her with much needed love and nourishment, they must catch her. And before they can catch her, she moves her family into one of Sam Western’s trailers. Sam, a recognized animal-hater, will surely kill her if he finds her. Unless Mandy and James can catch her first…

Will Mandy and James be able to save these four cats? And will they be able to find them homes?

Discussion.

I didn’t enjoy Cats at the Campground as much as I have enjoyed others in the Animal Ark series. I think there were two main reasons for this. 1) The storyline seemed to go nowhere with repetition and 2) It was astoundingly melodramatic.

Most of the melodrama comes from the extremely idealistic view Mandy takes on animals. She views them as creatures that must be protected, provided for, and generally pampered. It is a HORRIBLE thought that some cats might have to sleep outside and scrounge for their own food – they would be much happier if they were locked into a cage in an animal shelter and fed on daily rations. It really drained me to hear Mandy wheezing about how to properly care for pets and harshly condemning those who don’t live in adoration of their pets.

Oh, and do you want to get how terrible our villain is? He’s so horrible, he almost destroyed an entire herd of deer because he wanted to chop down a forest and sell it for money THE GREEDY MAN! Well, yes, it was his property. And yes, the deer actually could have found another forest to live in. But he’s so terrible, HE’D RATHER HAVE MONEY THAN DEER!!!!!!!!!!!!!

:D

Mandy behaves in what I would consider to be a very disrespectful manner towards Mr. Western (the VILLAIN). What’s she got against him? Well, the aforementioned DEER EPISODE and also the fact that he wants to get the four cats out of his trailer. Oh, he’s so evil for not sharing his trailer with the poor little kitty cats. So, there’s this scene in which a horse gets sick. First, Mandy irrationally blames Mr. Western for the illness (she knew at the moment that she was being irrational but didn’t care), accuses him of all sorts of things including *gasp* HATING ANIMALS *ungasp* and runs off in hot anger and emotional turmoil.

Now, I have to be fair right here. Mandy’s mother follows her and convinces her that she needs to apologize to Mr. Western (she mutters ‘I’m sorry’ “trying to sound as if she meant it” because obviously she didn’t) and then Mandy continues to think abusively of Mr. Western. She even glares at him on several occasions (I’m sure that struck him to the heart). What was really funny to me is that Mr. Western seems to think that being accused of hating animals is as serious and awful a thing as Mandy finds it. He repudiates her claim, telling her that he has had a phobia about cats ever since one of them scratched him when he was a child (?!?) but that he doesn’t hate them. He almost gains back her good favour except that he commits the blunder of referring to foxes and rabbits as pests, which causes Mandy’s hackles to rise. She later says to her mother and James,

“I still don’t like him.”

“Me, neither,” James agreed.

“Well, somehow I don’t think that’s ever going to change,” Dr. Emily said. “You both see animals as individuals with thoughts and feelings, whereas Mr. Western simply splits them into two groups: those that are useful to him and those that are pests.” She glanced over her shoulder and smiled at them. “For my money, I think the world would be a much better place if more people thought the way you two do. I’m very proud of you.” [pgs. 128-129]

Riiiggghht. Well, at least Mandy is supporting her parents’ vision of the world! They actually all have very sweet relationships with her. They often tease one another and play around, but they also work together. “Mandy hurried through to the office and slipped on her white coat. She loved helping in the clinics.” [pg. 24]

Mandy and James have a happy-go-lucky relationship. They never bicker, but on one occasion, Mandy jokingly calls James an idiot.

Conclusion. Much sillier than most of the Animal Ark books.

Review © 2013 Laura Verret

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