An abused dog with attitude problems finds a home in this middle-grade novel.
Webster, aka “Beast,” a black Lab mix, has led a lonely and tumultuous life. After three unsuccessful adoptions, he winds up at the Green Meadows Rescue Group. Unwilling to trust anyone, Webster hunkers down in his kennel and plans his escape. White’s too-cool-for-school third-person narrative voice captures Webster’s lonely-but-tough-guy attitude, although its predominance occasionally wears. The friendliness of the shelter cats and dogs throws a wrench in Webster’s plan to be a Bad Hat—a loner and ne’er-do-well—but he keeps up (with difficulty) his defenses, and when the opportunity arises, he escapes—although with misgivings. His adventures are not what he planned, however. Instead of wreaking havoc in high, Bad Hat style, Webster finds himself rescuing a drowning man, saving a toddler from getting run over, and shepherding six abandoned kittens to the safety of the shelter. Eventually, Webster learns to trust again as he realizes that the shelter is filled with friends who care about him. While it’s a familiar-enough theme, the storyline is enhanced by White’s quirky details (the cats and dogs at the shelter steal out of their kennels at night and watch Downton Abbey together on PBS), and there is some truly funny dialogue between the animals.
An empathetic story told in a fun, lighthearted way. (Fiction. 8-14)