Ginger, a golden retriever, is the product of a brutal puppy mill, inauspicious beginnings that don’t improve much.
Taken from her pathetically ill-treated mother, Ginger is brought to a pet shop where she's bought by a shallow couple as an inappropriate Christmas present for their 2-year-old son. Acting as puppies do, Ginger gets herself in enough trouble that she's turned over to an animal shelter. Then she's taken in by a kindly man who understands her needs but—inevitably—leaves her with an irresponsible pet sitter. Eventually, she ends up on the streets with a group of feral dogs. After getting passed to a pet rescuer, things finally begin to look up for Ginger, providing a final object lesson on what constitutes a good pet home. While Ginger's first-person narration is relatively believable, the plot seems driven by the need to inform young readers about the many pitfalls mistreated pets encounter, rather than by the desire to tell a good story. But including such a wide range of unfortunate situations diminishes the separate impact of each one, since there is only room to lightly sketch them in this brief chapter book. Attractive, realistic drawings in each chapter fully capture Ginger's placid nature.
Assisted by Ginger’s attractively gentle voice, pet lovers may be willing to overlook the sometimes heavy-handed narrative. (history of golden retriever breed, information on puppy mills, rescue groups, animal shelters, and how to choose a dog.) (Fiction. 8-12)