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SABLE by Karen Hesse


by Karen Hesse & illustrated by Marcia Sewall

Pub Date: April 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-8050-2416-6
Publisher: Henry Holt

Another nicely honed Redfeather Book from the author of Lavender (1993) and Phoenix Rising (p. 480). Again, the theme is caring for loved ones; but where the adults in Lavender were exemplary, the parents here hardly seem to love their daughter in the beginning, much less the stray dog she adopts. Gruff Pap, a carpenter, is too busy to let Tate help him or to understand her need for companionship. Mam has a deep fear of dogs and still has scars to show why; she's testy and anxious when Pap lets Tate feed ``Sable'' and keep her outside. But Tate loves the dog, and Sable reciprocates her affection. Unfortunately, once she's well fed, she takes to wandering—follows the school bus, brings things home, bothers neighbors. When there are complaints, Pap gives Sable to a customer, miles away. Desolate but determined, Tate builds a fence in hopes of bringing Sable home, then hitches a ride to see her; but the dog has run away. By the time she makes her way home, each character has gained some insights: With more help from Tate, and realizing how much she has grieved, Mam mellows; Pap sees the fence as evidence that Tate might make a carpenter; even Sable has had enough of running and settles down. With a fresh narrative voice, thoughtfully developed characters, and its surefire Lassie-Come-Home ending, a fine early chapter book. (Fiction. 6-10)