The Sundown Rule

The Sundown Rule

Wendy Townsend

A young girl’s love of all things wild and free collides with suburban living.When I was little I had all kinds of tanks and fish bowls in my room that I set up for the animals I found in the woods and in Marl Lake. I caught snails and dragonfly larvae and crawdads and tadpoles so I could have my own Marl Lake right in my room. I brought in so many animals Dad made a rule called the sundown rule, which said that by sundown I had to let every animal go in the place where I’d found him.

Louise and her dad live an idyllic life surrounded by nature. When he gets an assignment to go to Brazil to write an article for a magazine, Louise has to go live in a suburb with her aunt and uncle, leaving her cat, Cash, behind, since Aunt Kay is allergic to animals. Her dad says that it will be for only six weeks, and that everything will be okay. But it isn’t, especially when Cash gets hit by a car and dies. Or when a new friend’s dad shoots a crow for no reason. Or when her own dad gets sick, really sick, and might not be coming home.

Like her previous book, Lizard Love, Wendy Townsend’s finely observed story of a girl’s love of all things wild and free is a powerful testimony to our natural world.


  • Ages: 8-14
  • Grades: 3-7
  • Pages: 124

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Recent Reviews

7This spare, lovely novel concerns that moment in childhood, at once universal and utterly lonely, when one is forced to recognize that all life is mortal....Unfolding with the implacable clarity of the natural world Louise reveres, the novel proves that a quiet story can be as gripping as the busiest action-packed narrative—and with more staying power.

—Kirkus Reviews

7Creature-crazy readers will both thrill to Louise’s intense relationships with the various wild animals who pass briefly through her life and identify with the wrenching pain that accompanies bidding each of them farewell. The simple, timeless power of this quiet novel may not be for every reader in today’s fast-paced, hyper-media-saturated environment, but it will be a singular treasure for those still moved by the wild world.

—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Wendy Townsend's (LIZARD LOVE) heartfelt story about a girl who feels most at home in nature will make even hardcore city dwellers wake up to the wonders of the natural world....Jean Craighead George fans will be thrilled to discover Wendy Townsend, a writer with a kindred spirit.

—Shelf Awareness

Honors for The Sundown Rule

  • Bank Street Best Children's Books of the Year, Nine to Twelve, 2012 edition 7 Outstanding Merit

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