THE FIELD OF THE DOGS by Katherine Paterson


Age Range: 8 - 10
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Talking dogs and nasty bullies make odd yet compatible bedfellows in Paterson’s intriguing and eccentric new novel. Josh, who was forced to move from Virginia to Vermont when his mother remarried, hates the cold, snowy climate and is ill at ease with his new stepfather and baby brother. But his major problem is that he’s being bullied by his neighbor Wes, a big kid who “grabbed him and stuffed snow down his jacket.” While searching for his dog Manch in the woods, Josh hears “wild, not quite human laughter.” He stops to investigate and what he discovers amazes him. Manch is having a real conversation with several doggy buddies. Hiding behind a tree, Josh eavesdrops and learns that these pooches are being tormented by a pack of larger dogs who call themselves the River Gang. Meanwhile, in the human world, Wes continues to persecute Josh. The story of Josh and Manch intersect when Wes tells Josh that he must bring him the collar from a huge Weimaraner, who happens to be none other than the biggest, meanest dog in the River Gang. Paterson smoothly and proficiently cranks up the pressure for both boy and dog as Josh struggles to solve their interconnected problem. The ending, despite some credibility problems, is satisfying and rather touching, though this book lacks the emotional fire and complexity of Paterson’s best work. Still, an imaginative blend of a what-if (dogs could talk) and a problem novel (on how to tame a bully). (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: March 31st, 2001
ISBN: 0-06-029474-4
Page count: 96pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2000


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