In the new middle-grade novel My Best Friend Is Extinct, a lonely 10-year-old boy discovers a wounded, bear-like creature living in the snow and must nurse it back to health while facing bullies and sabre-toothed tigers.
The story begins smack in the middle of a wild snowball fight. At Henry’s new school, two warring factions, the Weasels and the Packrats, are competing over who can build the bigger, deeper snow fort. While digging inside the Packrats’ fort, Henry catches a glimpse of a “furry thing,” but the fort suddenly crashes on top of him. Henry becomes obsessed with finding the creature and convinces classmates Koko and Lucas to sneak off school grounds to look. When they get caught, Henry not only loses his friends but is kicked out of the Packrats.
Henry tracks down the ancient-looking animal – which he names Yarp (after the sound it makes) – and builds a new snow cave to house and help his wounded friend. Things get tense when Yarp’s predator, a back-from-extinction sabre-toothed tiger, starts closing in.
The novel’s intermittent artwork, by Cornelia Li, is expressive, showcasing cozy snow-covered scenes and vivid character interactions to accompany Wood Barrett’s imaginative storytelling. But most effective is the relatable and charming Henry, who learns lessons about bravery, trust, and friendship through his sweet relationship with a prehistoric friend.