The Wild Ones - C. Alexander London

When a country raccoon used to a soft life winds up all alone in the big city, there's no telling what he'll do to survive -- and to save his fellow wild animals in the process.

Kit, a young raccoon, has lived his whole life under the Big Sky in the comfort of his parents' burrow. But when a pack of hunting dogs destroy his home and kill his parents, Kit finds himself in Ankle Snap Alley, a city in the midst of a turf war between the Wild Ones and the people's pets who call themselves The Flealess. There he follows the clues his parents left behind to uncover the secret that they died for–the existence of an ancient truce that gives Ankle Snap Alley to the Wild Ones. But The Flealess will stop at nothing to keep that secret buried forever–and Kit is in serious danger.
Perfect for fans of the Warriors, Spirit Animals, or Redwall series, this first book in the Wild Ones epic is sure capture young readers' imaginations and take them on a great adventure.

I honestly don't care what your thoughts might be on animal stories. I have my own thoughts on the genre. But every once in a while, there's a book about animals that just jumps out at me and I can't help but tell everyone about it. The Wild Ones is just such a book. Within moments off finishing the last page, I just had to tell people about it (check my Facebook if you don't believe me!)

This book has a fantastic cast of characters, some frightening, some adorable, and others hilarious in spite of their more "evil" qualities. There's the scheming and wickedly self-entitled Titus, a mini greyhound who just can't stand wild animals living so close to his cozy home. There's Sixclaw, the ruthless cat who follows Titus's orders and wreaks havoc on the citizens of Ankle Snap Alley and brings about a fair about of death and destruction. There's scheming raccoons, a mob-boss turtle, a hundred-headed rat king, and other charming and bizarre creatures. But most of all, there's our heroes, Kit and Eeni, and Kit's uncle Rik.

For a raccoon, Kit is a beautifully rendered, three dimensional character. The tragedy that befalls him prior to his unwilling journey into the city of the Slivered Sky serves to change him from a childish and entitled youngster into a mature, confident, and brave raccoon. His friendship with Eeni also allows him to develop into a wiser and more calculating character. Eeni, though, doesn't just act as a support for Kit, but is a fully realized character in her own right, with a back story that will be sure to leave readers feeling a deeper connection to her in the end.

Though the tale is dark in overall tone and reads like a somewhat toned down gangster film in parts, London masterfully navigates to the edge of the purely tragic and then manages to lighten the mood with a well-placed joke or moment of witty dialogue. There's also a lot of very poignant truthfulness that shows up throughout the book, momentary lessons and reminders of the power of words and intentions.
"Now listen here, Kit." The big hen adjusted her glasses on her beak. "Mind your step in the alley, lad. Not all traps are made of metal. Sometimes words can be the most dangerous snares of all." [...] Everyone in Ankle Snap Alley had such a funny way of talking. Words were another game to play, like shells-and-nuts, and wherever you thought the meaning was hid, they'd hid it somewhere else altogether. You couldn't win, but you had to play.
There are a number of humorous turns of phrase that also help to build up the world and make it much more rich and grounded. I found myself getting up for a coffee refill mid-book and having to remind myself that no, in fact, there isn't a war brewing between indoor and outdoor animals in a small alleyway of the city I live in... at least... I don't think there is. Oh boy, now I have to go check... 

This is a great book for elementary school classes and for more mature younger readers who are able to handle the presence of death and frightening scenes. This book needs to be bought, taken out of the library, read, loved, and appreciated, from "howl to snap."

Highly Recommended


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