Once again, as in Elizabeth Catcher a Fish (1977), Jane Rush Thomas invests a youngish child--here, nine-year-old Daniel--with real and satisfying skills, and writes a graceful, evocative prose that bears one along on sheer sensory images. The plot is relatively commonplace; but not prosaic. Daniel's beloved dog Captain has just died when he finds another dog nearly starved to death in a culvert. Rejecting the vet's warning that the newcomer may not live, Daniel nun,s her back to something like health. But the dog, Lady, has obviously been scarred by earlier experiences, and she doesn't respond to his affection as Captain did. Then she rum off, and when she returns days later, badly mauled by a porcupine, Daniel at first is angry, resentful, resistant--before he allows his affections to be engaged, hopefully, again. The family-farm setting, as Thomas handles it, gives the story an almost old-fashioned undertow of responsibility and cherishing. Daniel, as a result, has the stature of a person; he is not just a floundering child. None of this makes the book a monumental accomplishment, but on its own circumscribed terms it's uncommonly effective. The mood is sustained, also, by Howell's light-fingered line drawings.