Wildoak

by C.C. Harrington tells the story of a self-conscious girl, an impending ecological disaster, and an unlikely friendship. In England in 1963, 11-year-old Margaret Stephens has a stutter and is terrified of being bullied for it, so much so that she stabs her hand with a sharp pencil rather than be forced to read aloud in class. Her action is misconstrued as troublesome and she’s kicked out of school, a turn of events that leads her father to threaten that he’ll send her to an institution. As her last chance, Maggie is sent to spend time with her grandfather in Wildoak Forest. There, she befriends a dazzlingly rare snow leopard cub, Rumpus, a wealthy Londoner’s exotic pet who couldn’t be domesticated. Maggie finds peace and friendship with Rumpus in Wildoak Forest, but dangers lurk: Rumpus is threatened by outsiders and the woods are endangered by nearby toxic mining. In order to save both, Maggie will have to get the courage to find her voice and speak up. (Middle Grade Books)