‘Ferrets, take your places!’ Race caller Fred Plummer’s voice boomed through the Upton Community Centre.
Lucy lifted her horseshoe pendant to her lips and kissed it for luck. She wasn’t sure if it really was lucky, but that’s what her best friend, Penny, had told her when she had given it to her on her tenth birthday last year.
She was also wearing her lucky red-and-blue striped undies. The rest was up to Flash.
Lucy opened the door to her ferret’s cage and grabbed him before he could escape.
Lucy has been training her ferret, Flash, for the upcoming Fastest Fearless Ferret Race. Flash is doing well too, apart from the occasional distracted moment. The other competitors are a mixed bunch. Elisha’s ferret is called Bad Boy Butch and it’s a fitting name and his personality matches hers. Mr Olfart has a good ferret, Sadie, but she’s taken to falling asleep mid race. Which is a bit like how Lucy feels when Mr Olfart starts in on his collection of ferret race stories. Then there’s Li and his ferret, Sable. There are others of course, but these are the main contenders. Tensions run high as the race approaches and nothing is running smoothly for Lucy and Flash. And just as things seem like they are settled again, Flash vanishes. Coloured illustrations appear on most openings, and break up the text.
Ferret on the Loose is part of New Frontier Publishing’s Little Rocket series of fast-paced stories for junior primary readers. Lucy has received a ferret as a gift rather than the horse she’d really asked for. It seems that part of her plan in racing Flash is to convince herself and others that he is a worthy substitute. Along the way, she has to contend with a bully and possibly a ferret-napper. The animals behave better than their humans in several cases. Lucy discovers many things along the way about competition, responsible pet ownership and winning. The inclusion of illustrations on most openings helps newly confident readers manage the transition to less-illustrated texts. A fun read, recommended for emerging readers.
Ferret on the Loose, Heather Gallagher ill Benjamin Johnston New Frontier Publishing 2013 ISBN: 9781921928420
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
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