Friday, June 1, 2007

Claws by Dan Greenburg


I recommend this book for: middle school.

Cody is 14 but looks older, so he's able to run away from his abusive mother and work his way across the country. At the opening of this book, he's opted out of cleaning bathrooms and busing tables for working as a wrangler on a ranch in Texas. Only, this ranch doesn't raise horses and cattle - it raises tigers.

Sunny and Deke, the co-owners Cody meets at the ranch, are ex-circus folk who now run the ranch and rescue abused animals. There's also Sunny's brother, who has been missing for several weeks, and the rumors around the ranch say Sunny killed him and fed him to the animals. But Cody takes her side and starts an investigation that could prove her innocence - but it also puts him in grave danger.

I really enjoyed this story. The descriptions of Cody's work weren't entirely pleasant (he's responsible for feeding the big cats with parts of cows, then cleaning their cages later), but even my weak stomach was able to handle them. The characters were interesting, and it was facinating to look at life on a tiger ranch - Greenburg based the story on his own tiger ranching experiences, so it's a rather accurate picture. Especially touching were Cody's interactions with a young boy who's an outcast because of a stutter and a huge tiger who is classified as too mean to live because of his abusive past. I felt that the end of the book was resolved a bit too quickly, and it was somewhat too neat, but it was definitely open ended and possibly leaves room for a sequel. A great quick read!

Hey, they like it!

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