Sometimes, I almost have to write two reviews when reading books intended for a younger audience. As an adult, I don't appreciate ridiculous jokes and bizarre plots in the same way kids do -- and that's okay! Still, the fact that a book is geared for children is not a free pass for poor or sloppy writing. Wild Life was the third book Pumpkin and I read from the 2014 Golden Sower Chapter Book nominees, and this is the review I wrote in December of 2013.
Ugh. You might wonder why I gave it three stars and an "ugh", so here is the reason: it is a book intended for middle grade readers, and the things that bugged me will probably not even register with them. I read this with my fourth-grade daughter, as it is a Golden Sower Award nominee. The story is intended to be simple: Parents, in the National Guard, are both deployed to Middle East, so 11 year old son has to go to North Dakota and stay with grandparents he only met once many years ago and has not seen since; boy gets to North Dakota and has an adventure he never expected. Far fetched, but not completely implausible. But a little bit implausible. Implausible. (I like that word today.)
What was most unbelievable? The characters. And that bugs me. They lost "continuity", if you will, as the story progressed. They did not act in accordance with their situations and the basic story line. I tried to just go with as we read, but there were several points when I had to point out the inconsistencies to my daughter. She agreed with me, but was not as bothered as I was. Hence the three stars. Bah!