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story.lead_photo.caption Opie the Cat sniffs "Jasmine Green Rescues: A Kitten Called Holly" by Helen Peters, illustrated by Ellie Snowdon (Walker Books, Sept. 1), ages 7 to 9, 160 pages, $14.99 hardback. $6.99 paperback, 99-cent eBook. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Celia Storey)

"Jasmine Green Rescues: A Kitten Called Holly"

BY: Helen Peters, illustrated by Ellie Snowdon (Walker Books, Sept. 1), ages 7 to 9, 160 pages, $14.99 hardback, $6.99 paperback, 99-cent eBook.

STORY: Jasmine Green is a farmgirl who will disobey her mother to save a cute baby animal. Jasmine and her buddy Tom already have rescued "A Piglet Called Truffle," "A Duckling Called Button" and "A Collie Called Sky" when they encounter the title character in this, the fourth book in a series that's been in print in the United Kingdom four years. These first U.S. editions couldn't come at a better time. We need some heroic little kids with loving parents.

Jasmine's mom is a veterinarian, and she delivers a lot of serious education in charmingly natural dialogue. When Jasmine and Tom uncover three kittens, and the feral mama cat carries away two but not the third, Mom explains that this kitten was left to die. Feral tomcats can impregnate females when they are barely more than kittens themselves. Physically ill equipped, young mothers are more likely to reject their babies. Or, the kitten might have internal damage, and the mother cat senses her doom.

Jasmine and Tom name her Holly, for Christmas, and scheme until she's living upstairs in Jasmine's bedroom, with Mom's blessing. But Mom is adamant. Holly must be re-homed.

Will Tom's mother let him take her? Will a selfish, clueless girl at school get Holly? And what about the feral mama and her other two kittens? Surely Holly misses her family and they also should come indoors ...

Even though they have happy endings, these books help children understand harsh realities.

Read to Me is a weekly review of short books.

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