Merlin (Shelter Pet Squad) by Cynthia Lord

Published by Scholastic Press 

Summary:  Second-grader Suzannah and her friends are back for the second installment of the Shelter Pet Squad series.  This time, they are captivated by Merlin, a lively ferret who loves to hide, steal shiny objects, and play.  Wanting to make sure he finds a perfect home, the kids decide to make up a ferret quiz for any potential adopter.  As the youngest member of the group, Suzannah sometimes struggles to keep up with the other kids, so she decides to do her research from the biggest book she can find.  But she’s not quite ready to tackle such a weighty reading assignment, and her sketchy reading causes her to give Merlin a toy that almost proves disastrous.  Fortunately, she’s surrounded by friends who are glad to help, and a happy ending is in store for all, including Merlin.  Grades 2-4.

Pros:  Newbery honoree Cynthia Lord has created an early chapter book series that has a bit more depth and character development than many books of this level.  Kids will love reading about animals and the children who get to help them.

Cons:  Readers may be disappointed to learn that seven-year-olds working with animals in a shelter is, in general, purely fictional.

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