________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 12 . . . .February 8, 2008


Raffi's Animal Rescue. (First Novels 63).

Sylvain Meunier. Illustrated by Élisabeth Eudes-Pascal. Translated by Sarah Cummins.
Halifax, NS: Formac, 2007.
64 pp., pbk. & hc., $5.95 (pbk.), $14.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-0-88780-740-4 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-88780-742-8 (hc.).

Subject Headings:
Children with disabilities-Juvenile fiction.
Birds-Juvenile fiction.
Wildlife rescue-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-10.

Review by Robert Groberman.

** /4



Hugging the walls, Raffi made his way back from the bathroom and fell into his chair. The trip had been almost pain-free, and he was proud of that. It was good for him to move about a little.

Of course, the bathroom was just down the hall on the same floor. It was harder to go down to the kitchen. And he wasn't even allowed in the basement.


Raffi's Animal Rescue is the story of young Raffi McCaffrey, who seems to be about 10-years-old. He suffers from sickle-cell anemia, a disease which causes him a lot of pain in his hips and so makes movement difficult. In Sylvain Meunier's short novel, translated from the French by Sarah Cummins, Raffi is home from school because of his pain and is looking out the window with his binoculars, bird watching. When Raffi sees an injured purple martin on the ground, his instinct tells him to go outside to save this bird by picking it up and bringing it inside before it is attacked by a neighbourhood cat. But Raffi is in too much pain to move. His father is at work. His mother, who works out of home, is out on an errand, and Raffi is in the care of his older sister who is at school and will not be home until lunchtime.

internal art     Meunier poses an interesting question for her young readers. How can a boy who cannot move, help a bird who cannot move? When Raffi's sister comes home for lunch and shows no interest in helping the bird, Raffi takes it upon himself to save this bird. He soon finds himself falling down the stairs and lying on the floor, as helpless as the bird he was going to save. Circumstances, including a change of heart from his sister, lead to a happy ending both for Raffi and the injured bird.

      Illustrations by Elisabeth Eudes-Pascal add to the reader's comprehension of this otherwise difficult story. Sometimes it is the illustration which helps the reader understand the position of Raffi on the floor or the placement of the birds outside.

      The authors use of sickle-cell anemia as a plot point to explain her character's inability to move easily takes some of the mystery out of this disease. This is a charming story about a boy who loves animals and his efforts to save an injured bird.


Robert Groberman is a grade one and grade two teacher at Kirkbride Elementary School, Surrey, BC.

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