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Strays    by Ron Koertge order for
by Ron Koertge
Order:  USA  Can
Candlewick, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

Sixteen-year-old Ted has never been good at making friends. He prefers the company of animals who are more accepting than people. He grew up in a pet store and thinks it's only natural that he can talk to animals.

Ted's parents died in a fiery car crash and the book begins with Ted going into his first foster home. C.W. has been in more than a few and despite the Rafters' little oddities, he assures Ted that this is one of the better homes.

Ted faces getting to know C.W., their foster parents, and his roommate Astin, while coping with a new school and losing his parents. At his old school he was bullied and harassed so he doesn't expect much when he goes to his first day of classes. He's not any more cool than at his old school, but Astin and C.W. introduce him to their friends. C.W. is one of those kids who can make friends wherever he is. Stepping carefully, Ted moves through the school year.

It is difficult to tell whether Ted is better off now than when his parents were living. Koertge's account of Ted's transformation into a self confident teenager doesn't take place overnight. Ted has a lot to learn including how to stand up for himself.

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