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The Stray


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About the Author

Dick King-Smith was born and raised in Gloucestershire, England, surrounded by pet animals. After twenty years as a farmer, he turned to teaching and then to writing children's books. Dick writes mostly about animals: farmyard fantasy, as he likes to call it, often about pigs, his special favorites. He enjoys writing for children, meeting the children who read his books, and knowing that they get enjoyment from what he does. Among his well-loved books is Babe, The Gallant Pig , which was made into a major motion picture and nominated for an Academy Award. Dick currently lives with his wife in a small 17th-century cottage, about three miles from the house where he was born.


This cozy, old-fashioned novel from the author of Babe: The Gallant Pig is the literary equivalent of milk and cookies. Henny Hickathrift, age 75, wakes up one morning and decides to run away from home, or, "to be more accurate... from the Home‘the old age home where she lived." Spending all her savings on a first-class train ticket and an unwholesome breakfast, she arrives at an English seaside village, where no sooner does she pronounce herself a "stray" than the five Good siblings (who might have wandered in from an E. Nesbit novel) take her under their collective wing. Henny quickly joins their household, becoming a cherished member of the aptly named family. Similar wordplay laces the narrative, which also includes Henny's rescue of another stray (a dog) and a lottery (which Henny wins). While not for kids who insist on action-heavy plots, the book will endear itself to readers in search of low-key but big-hearted diversion. Ages 7-11. (Aug.)

Gr 3-5-The Stray by Dick King-Smith (Crown, 1996) is a delightfully wholesome story about families of pets and children. It's about the relationship between a family and an elderly woman who has run away from a nursing home on a quest for independence and adventure. The healthy family life portrayed is welcome listening material. Jane Whitfield, an English actress with radio and TV experience, gives authentic English speech and dialect to the characters as she relates the story that is set in Saltmouth, England. Used with a class of fourth graders, it inspired research on foreign coins and word origins as well as discussions of generation gaps, family life, and the ethics of lotteries. A fine purchase for group or individual listening.‘Katherine A. Galloway, Ladd Elementary School, Waynesboro, VA

"An intergenerational story with an endearing main character...full of gentle humor...and eminently likable characters." -- School Library Journal

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