(Image from Barnes & Noble)
As part of the festivities for Multicultural Children's Book Day, I was matched with author Marti Dumas. Yesturday, I featured the first two books in her upbeat Jaden Toussaint series, which stars a genius kindergartner who uses scientific reasoning (and ninja dance parties) to solve everyday problems.
Dumas' standalone novel, Jala and the Wolves, focuses on another child who uses knowledge to overcome challenges. Jala is a 6-year-old who lives in New Orleans. She hates getting her hair combed, but she loves to eat, read, and learn facts about animals, especially wolves. One day while she's waiting (very hungrily) for her mom to make her breakfast, Jala notices something strange in her room—a magic mirror. Just as she's settling down to read a favorite book, her room starts to change. Then, Jala begins to transform. Suddenly, she can leap and smell and hear like a wolf because somehow, she is a wolf.
When Jala meets Milo, a nervous cub who needs her help to save his pack, she has to use all her skills to figure out what to do. With the pack, which is made up of very young pups, counting on her, she needs to come up with a plan—or else the cubs will die just like their parents did. Can she teach the babies what they need to know to survive? They're looking to her forhelp, but what about her family back in Louisiana? Which is her real pack? How can Jala choose? She can't think her way out of this one—this time, it's her heart that must decide.
Like Jaden, Jala is an admirable character. Not only is she kind and loving, but she's also smart, logical, and brave. Throughout her adventures in the wolf world, she has to use all these traits to bring a struggling pack together. Her plight shows young readers the power of compassion, putting another's needs before your own, and using teamwork to solve problems. Not only does Jala and the Wolves teach some valuable lessons, but it's also a fast, exciting story that will appeal to anyone who's ever wondered what it would be like to be their favorite animal. And, really, who hasn't done that? Personally, I very much enjoyed this quick, engaging read.
(Readalikes: Hm, I can't think of anything. Can you?)
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for a little bit of blood/gore related to hunting