LOOK BACK, MOSS by Betty Levin


Age Range: 10 - 12
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The sheep-herding border collie of Away To Me, Moss (1994) changes another life after being mauled by coyotes and stolen by animal rights extremists. Jody’s house is filled with cats and other creatures rescued from locked cars by his mother and aunt, members of a loosely organized cell of activists. He is often dragged along on their forays, to provide a lookout and, if required, a diversion, and the stress has made him a compulsive eater, sullen and unresponsive to both of his divorced parents. Inspired by rumors of mistreated animals, members of the group attend a New Hampshire sheep-herding trial, where their efforts to remove the sheep end in a deadly melee after a pack of coyotes attacks; as the group escapes, they come upon Moss by the side of the road, bloody and barely alive. Afraid to go back, they carefully pick him up and drive away. Though Jody doesn’t like dogs (or any animals), he reluctantly accepts responsibility for Moss’s care, half-carrying the collie at first, then as brief walks turn into ever more strenuous runs, realizing that Moss will never be well away from his rightful owners. How is he going to get Moss back without giving himself and his mother away? While Levin is sympathetic to their concerns, the activists are portrayed as naive and close-minded, well-meaning but causing as much harm as good; Jody is more clearheaded, at least by the end, although he is so wrapped up in Moss’s welfare that readers are more aware of the changes in him than he is. Readers attracted by the strongly drawn main characters will find the author’s unusually even-handed treatment of a sensitive issue worth pondering. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-688-15696-7
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Greenwillow
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1998


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