Escape from Baxters’ Barn written and illustrated by Rebecca Bond

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company

Summary: Burdock the barn cat hasn’t had the easiest life, but he’s always been able to look out for himself. Then one night, he overhears Dewey, the farmer, discussing his plan to burn down the barn and collect the insurance money. Burdock realizes that, even though he can get away, the lives of the other barn animals are in danger. He shares the news, and the animals begin to look for a way to escape before Dewey can carry out his dastardly plot. As their plan grows more complicated, Burdock finds himself increasingly participating in it. Should he continue to go his independent way and save himself, or allow himself to be drawn into becoming part of the barn family? Grades 2-5

Pros: With its memorable animal characters, exciting storyline, and expressive illustrations, this would be a great read-aloud for kids as young as first grade. The story of the animals conspiring to outwit the humans’ deadly plans, the warm friendships, and the realistic pen-and-ink drawings invite comparisons to Charlotte’s Web.

Cons: Dewey’s extreme and potentially deadly plan to burn down a barn full of animals may be a little much for younger readers.

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