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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Squeals on Wheels: Stink and the Great Guinea Pig Express by Megan McDonald

Stink Moody a guinea pig whisperer? Judy Moody's irrepressible little brother is many things, but who knew he had a special way with guinea pigs?

But when Stink and his friends Webster and Sophie find three of the little rodents in their "Great Wall of Cereal Boxes" construction, they soon learn that they are escapees from Ms. Birdwhistle's surplus guinea pig population at Fur and Fangs Pet Shop. In fact, there are 101 of the little squealers there, and after the three friends help Ms. B. corral them again in their cages, she confesses that she needs help finding homes for these fluffy little critters fast!

Stink has already fallen in love with one of the escapees, whom he names Astro, but when he hints that he would like to keep him, sister Judy points out that a guinea pig would not exactly be a compatible pet with their cat Mouse. So he and his buddies throw themselves into the guinea pig adoption project with characteristic energy. They industriously scrub down the inside of Ms. Birdwhistle's old camper van, arrange cages inside, and paint the outside to resemble a giant guinea pig, complete with blue eyes like Astro's, fluffy whiskers, moons, stars and rainbows, and a catchy name.

"It's a traveling guinea pig palace," said Sophie.

"A piggy parade," said Webster.

"Squeals on Wheels!" said Stink.

In the piggymobile Ms. Birdwhistle and the three friends set off on a pig placement project, first to the local mall, and then on The Great Guinea Pig Giveaway Tour, all the way to Virginia Beach, where a guinea pig rescue group promises to take some of the little squeakers off their hands. Along the way, the kids stop at all the tourist attractions--Bull Run Castle, where bunch of young wizards and witches at a Harry Potter party take six, the Reston Zoo, where a few more find homes, Norfolk's sudsy city fountain, where ten squeaky clean pigs find owners, and the Beatles Museum at the beach, where guinea pigs John, Paul, George, and Ringo find families among the mop-top fans. At last they arrive at the rescue headquarters, where Stink says a sad goodbye to the blue-eyed Astro.

Still missing his favorite, Stink returns home, only to find that his cat Mouse has a strange fascination with his backpack. Inside he finds a squeaky stowaway--Astro!--and wonder of wonders, it's love at first sight between Mouse and the little guinea pig. Soon there's a purring contest underway between guinea pig and Stink's pet, and the Moody household finds it has another furry friend in residence.

Megan McDonald's Stink and the Great Guinea Pig Express (Book #4) is but the latest in the beginning chapter adventures of Stink Moody, including Stink (Book #1): The Incredible Shrinking Kid, Stink and the Incredible Super-Galactic Jawbreaker (Book #2), Stink and the World's Worst Super-Stinky Sneakers (Book #3), Judy Moody & Stink: The Holly Joliday, and Judy Moody & Stink: The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Treasure Hunt, all illustrated in the inimitable comic style of Peter H. Reynolds, making this popular series serious boy reader bait.

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