Gooseberry Park and the Master Plan by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Arthur Howard

Published by Beach Lane Books

 Summary:  There’s a drought in Gooseberry Park, and it’s up to Kona the dog, Murray the bat, and Gwendolyn the hermit crab to get water to the elderly and baby animals that live there.  Together, they hatch an ingenious Master Plan which requires the cooperation of Murray’s cousin Morton, Herman the crow, a possum, a cat, three young squirrels, and 200 owls.  Working with split-second precision, the team manages to secure and store enough water to keep the animals going until much-needed rain brings the park residents permanent relief.  Grades 1-4.

Pros:  This perennially favorite author-illustrator team have produced a worth sequel to Gooseberry Park.  The story is engaging, but the book is driven by the characters, such as spiritual Gwendolyn (she does Reiki) and motivational speaker Morton.  Readers will cheer for the success of the master plan and root for another book about this wonderful community.  This would be a perfect read-aloud for primary grades.

Cons:  Some of the characters’ quirks may be more appreciated by adult readers than children.

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