A rescued dog saves an unhappy, silent boy in this gentle story about families, fears and courage.
As she did most recently in Waiting for the Magic (2011), Newbery Medalist MacLachlan shows the support that pets can provide. Zoe’s mother fosters abandoned Great Pyrenees dogs. But when Jack, a new dog, runs away, 9-year-old Phillip, a new neighbor, runs after him. He gets lost, but the dog leads him to a barn where they shelter from a night of rain and hail. Phillip’s parents are having problems; he’s staying for a while with a childless aunt and uncle with little experience with children or dogs, and he won’t talk to anyone. Zoe’s family, on the other hand, is close, chatty and compassionate. They care for each other and for their rescued animals: not only the massively shedding white dogs, but also an African grey parrot whose favorite phrase is “You can’t know.” True. There is much you can't know about people and animals both, and much you don’t know, still, after the story ends. Zoe recalls the experience in a narrative occasionally interrupted by ruminative, present-tense glimpses of Zoe with the dogs at night and summed up in her little sister Alice’s concluding journal entry. The spare prose and extensive dialogue leaves room for the reader’s imagination and sympathy.
Beautifully told, quietly moving and completely satisfying. (Fiction. 7-10)