An example of what I call "eco-fiction", The Prince Who Fell from the Sky, attempts to show what Earth will be like in the future. Animals have developed advanced reasoning skills and a language to communicate between species. Man has left the planet after a bloody coup by the wolves who now rule the forest.
Casseomae, a female bear whose cubs have never survived long after birth, is an outcast among her clan. Loneliness tempts her to do the unthinkable: to protect a human child who arrives in a space ship. Aided by a rat, familiar with human habits, and a dog who remains "man's best friend", Casseomae brings the boy to a formerly unknown human colony located on what appears to be Manhattan.
The travelers' discovery of the remnants of the Bronx Zoo is perhaps the most interesting development in the story. Unfortunately, the plot moves slowly, and the animals' attempts to understand the boy quickly become tedious. The portrayal of man as inherently hostile to nature is cliché at best, and the ending has a note of foreboding. Children who enjoy animal tales may find this book entertaining. Personally, I had a hard time getting through it.
Jennifer Minicus is a mother and teacher currently living in Ridgewood, NJ.
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