Shirley D. (Amherst, MA)
Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch
For one interested in the 19th century, in the business of selling wild animals and birds and in the whaling industry, this is a treasure.. For one who can distinguish and accept the reality closely interwoven with fantasy, it is a must. The reader who pays close attention to Birch’s marvelous word pictures, will feel the swell of the sea, hear the scream of the sea birds, smell the stink of the vomit and shudder at the butchering of the whale. A masterful piece of writing, but one that I would recommend only to those I knew had a mature imagination. It is not a fairy tale for children.
Bea C. (Liberty Lake, WA)
While the writing was great, very descriptive and made me feel like I was there, it is something I don't want to relive. The first half of the book was a wonderfully adventurous sea voyage, but I can't recommend this book to anyone I can think of since it is too unsettling and too detailed. I finished it a few hours ago and I am still sad, thirsty and feel dehydrated, but have no appetite. I wish it had ended differently.
Sherrill B. (Columbia City, In.)
8 yr old Jaffy is rescued from a Bengal tiger owned by Jamrach. Jaffy is hired to take care of Jamrach's animals and birds, along with another animal handler a boy named Tim. They have many adventures including a sea voyage. The book is full of tension, friendship, sacrifice and survival. I liked it.
Linda W. (Riverview, Florida)
This is a must read
I love love love this book! I was hooked after the first chapter. This is a must read for everyone.The story of a small boy who is excited about a life of adventure. A journey on the sea! Adventure turns to darkness...
Magaret (Brookfield, VT)
Told in the first-person, Jaffy Brown's story is of a life filled with wonder, exquisite joy, unbridled excitement, terror, brutal horror, survival, great sadness, love, and acceptance. I found myself totally and unabashedly absorbed in his nineteenth century world.
The teen-aged seafaring Jaffy laments that he will "never be able to describe all this, the way it felt". Not to worry … Carol Birch simply provides the most wonderful imagery you can possibly, well, imagine. Her descriptive narrative is vivid enough to have made my mouth water as an eight year old Jaffy tastes his first raspberry puff, to have made said mouth run dry during his on-sea adventures, and to have tears running down my cheeks when he struggles with the horror of choosing life or death.
I am enthused enough about the writing that I have ordered two earlier titles by Ms. Birch. She's that good.
Eileen B. (East Moriches, NY)
A Great Suspense Novel
I really enjoyed this historical novel. It was a page turner and there were times that I was at the edge of my seat. There was suspense, terror and the characters felt real to me. The book was beautifully written and I felt that I was right there on the boat with the Jaffy and all of the other bizarre characters. I look forward to reading Ms. Birch's other books.
Steve B. (Spring, TX)
Thrills & Suspense on Every Page
This book has adventure, excitement, tension and terror on virtually every page. Jamrach's Menagerie is definitely not for the faint of heart. It is extremely well written. I felt like this had the read of an autobiography. The author is that convincing in her portrayal of Jaff's odyssey. I will definitely be watching for other books by Ms. Birch.
I think this book would lead to very interesting book club discussions but I would be careful in recommending it to juveniles.