WHIPPOORWILL by Joseph Monninger


Age Range: 12 - 15
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Can a girl, a dog, and a boy overcome the disadvantages of circumstance?

When Clair first hears the sad sounds of the dog chained in the yard next door at the Stewarts' house, she doesn't do anything. The neighbors are not friendly ones, and she's afraid of them. But the filth and neglect in that backyard are too much to ignore, so finally she makes friends with the big, wild, lonely dog called Wally. The neighbor's son, Danny, emerges as an accomplice, and the two of them start Wally's training, based on a book by famous dog trainer Father Jasper, becoming friends in the process. But when a tragedy befalls them, Clair questions their whole relationship and Wally's safety. Monninger offers a sweet look at a tough existence. His characters manage to stay true to their hardscrabble roots while inviting readers to join a world in which hope is a rare but welcome thing. Occasionally, the author wields too forceful a hand, especially when it comes to Clair's expression of emotional confusion in the form of physical sickness. In general, however, the characters manage to be realistic yet engaging in the face of turmoil.

A sweet story about a lucky dog that reveals itself to be a deeper story about a lucky human. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-544-53123-9
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: HMH Books
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2015


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