Another decision came down last week: Endangered v Three Times Lucky, Judge Kathi Appelt.
As you recall, my prediction was “Endangered. Appelt has written about animals. Endangered has animals.”
So, what did Appelt say about the animals?
“This uncertainty is apparent in every move she makes, with the exception of her almost psychotic attachment to Otto, the orphaned bonobo.”
Almost psychotic attachment. Damn. I’m stealing that phrase for…. I don’t know. Something. I’ll figure it out.
Does her discussion give away what she decides? Well, there is this: “(Caveat: I’m not a huge fan of the “years later” kind of ending that Schrefer used here—a post-ending-ending–but in this case, it wasn’t a deal breaker).”
(I’m sure Roger Sutton would have LOVED if Appelt said, “yeah, deal breaker cause I so hate years-later endings.)
Ultimately, Appelt doesnt’ say “because it has animals,” but her emphasis on the bond between Sophie and Otto in making her decision shows, to me, that yes, it influenced her: “But at the end of the day, it’s Sophie who does this best. At least for this reader. In her overwhelming devotion to Otto, we see the enduring possible, even in the face of overwhelming cruelty. Likewise, I think it makes us uncomfortable to consider that a human’s love for an animal can be so intense and personal that she would risk her life, and possibly the lives of others, in order to save it. Schrefer does not shy away from that question, either. Instead, he puts it on the page in a bold way, and in so doing, we are asked to reach down deep and look at humanity at large. It’s how we treat the least of us, I think, that is at the core of this story. My experience tells me that children have no problem understanding this.”
So. Three for three. Am I gloating? Yes. I am gloating.
Also, one thing in terms of reader appeal? My seventh grade niece loved Endangered. So, there is that!