Title: Puppies in the PantryPuppies in the Pantry
Author: Ben M. Baglio
Illustrator: Shelagh McNicholas
Pages: 133
Reading Level: 8 – 12
Star Rating: ★★

Animal Ark.

The Story.

Mandy Hope is so excited – a film is being shot at Bleakfell Hall, a nearby manor house. It’s a murder mystery, and several wonderful animals are being used in the story – a parrot, three silky cats, and a lovely black Labrador named Charley. Mandy is delighted with them.

But then, Charley goes missing. Has she merely gotten loose, or has she been stolen?

Discussion.

I’ve already mentioned in my slightly sardonic review of Cats in the Campground Mandy’s highly romanticized view of animals. One really gets the feeling that she views animals as the center of the universe. They are helpless creatures who must be pandered to and adored by all humans. I have no doubt that were she asked that famous question – “What is the chief end of man?” – her reply would be “To worship and protect pets.”

Not only are her own views highly unreasonable, she harshly judges all those who do not believe exactly as she does. If a person brushes by an animal without pouring affection upon it, they are careless and unlikeable. If anyone dares to dislike an animal – horror! What villainy in our midst!

The thing that really disturbs me is how Mandy allows her fiery temper to flare out at anyone whom she perceives as being unloving towards animals. This often causes her to speak disrespectfully to adults before she has even considered the possibility of a misunderstanding. (Perhaps the person isn’t a monster – maybe he’s just allergic to pet dandruff.)

Mandy breathed a sigh. “Aren’t people horrible?” she said, suddenly feeling angry as she always did at the thought of all the abandoned and unwanted animals. “Why don’t people realize that a pet is for life, not something you can throw away like… like…” Mandy felt so indignant she couldn’t think of the right word.

“Like an empty cereal box?” Simon suggested.

“Exactly.” Mandy said. [pg. 39]

Oh dear.

On another occasion, Mandy discovers a fox trapped in a cage.

“Mandy bent to look into the cage. She felt angry and upset that the fox had been injured. Why couldn’t people just leave wild creatures in peace?” [pg. 64]

Um, excuse me, Mandy, but have you stopped to consider that foxes don’t leave humans in peace? They raid our gardens and destroy our vegetables, and they attack our coops and eat poor defenseless CHICKENS.

Apparent from chewing out random adults, Mandy is pretty good relationally – she gets along great with her parents and is very sensitive with her friend, James. She also has thriving relationships with both of her father’s parents.

In one of the scenes of the movie that is being filmed, a man is stabbed. We see an illustration of him with the knife “stuck” into him.

‘Gosh’ is used once.

Conclusion. So-so. Definitely filler fiction.

Review © 2013 Laura Verret

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