A Lamb Called Lucky by Helen Peters, illustrated by Ellie Snowdon. Walker Books, 2021. 9781536210286
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
Genre: Realistic fiction, animal stories
What did you like about the book? Jasmine Green lives on a working farm in England, and loves animals so much that she plans to open an animal rescue center with her best friend Tom when they grow up. In this 5th book in the Jasmine Green Rescues series, Jasmine and Tom foster a pair of baby sparrows AND an orphaned lamb. Jasmine’s experience on the farm, and Tom’s online research skills both come into play as they figure out the best methods to feed and care for these animals: the lamb, under the supervision of her farmer Dad and veterinarian mother, but the birds are secreted away in a closet in Jasmine’s bedroom. In addition to the strain of her round-the-clock animal care, Jasmine is working through complicated emotions, knowing that she won’t be able to keep any of them – she will have to release the birds eventually, and the lamb will be sold. The story takes a dark turn when the farm’s entire sheep flock is taken by a band of local rustlers, with Jasmine and her father helping police track them down before it’s too late. Her connection with Lucky the lamb proves to be essential to cracking the case.
Animal lovers and aspiring veterinarians will enjoy the books in this series. The animals are cute and lovable, but the character of Jasmine is the true highlight. Her concern for all creatures shines through in everything she does; she makes strong connections with all the animals, shares what she knows with Tom and her little brother Ben (and by extension, the reader), relies on her wise parents for advice when she thinks she needs it, and is relatively fearless. She seems to become stronger and more determined in each outing. It is also enjoyable to find rescued animals from previous books integrated into the action, which points to Jasmine’s long-term commitment to her passion. The author does not hesitate to share some of the harsh realities of farmwork; animal death by natural cause or predator is commonplace, and the charming bucolic setting is disrupted by the criminal behavior of the rustlers. A Q & A with Jasmine about lambs and a peek at the next book in the series are appended.
Anything you did not like about the book? It can be a bit off-putting how often she goes against her parents’ wishes, often deceitfully, and how easily they forgive her, but young readers may actually find that admirable, and there is always an appropriate consequence for her actions. In this book, she hides the birds in her wardrobe because she knows her mother would make her take them to a wildlife rehabilitator, but she wants to learn how to care for them for her future as a rescuer. When the birds are discovered, her parents are upset, but proud that Jasmine and Tom did such a good job. They allow the children keep them so long as the birds are eventually released.
To whom would you recommend this book? Appropriate for grade 2 and up, this is sure to be a winner with fans of the series and other animal rescue themed books. Readers who like books about farm life, including Charlotte’s Web or titles by Dick King-Smith, will definitely want to check out Jasmine Green.
Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries
Where would you shelve it? Fiction
Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Leigh Russell King, Lincoln Street School, Northborough, Massachusetts.
Date of review: 7/19/2021