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by Kevin Henkes

Age Range: 11 - 13

Pub Date: May 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-688-13958-2
Publisher: Greenwillow

 A slow, meaty story of an autocratic father and his strong- minded daughter looking for ways to break through the reserve that keeps them from expressing their mutual love and respect. Both have reason to tread warily. After years of holding out, Henry Swann, nearing 60, had broken down and allowed Fanny, 12, her heart's desire, a puppy. He changed his mind after it proved noisy and destructive and gave it away. When the book opens, moody fits brought on by a combination of creative block (he's a painter) and the approach of his 60th birthday make matters worse; when Henry announces at the last minute that he won't attend his own party, Fanny dispatches a balloon with a note attached: ``At this very moment I don't understand my father and would like a new one.'' Henry goes away to think, but when he returns, it is with a peace offering: Dinner, a sweet-natured adult dog, exuberant but also well-trained. Over time Dinner becomes a satisfying companion for Fanny and Henry both, and a solid link between them. As in Henkes's other novels (and in contrast to his picture books), the glacial, evenly modulated plot requires patient readers; the reward is a cast of good-hearted, strongly individual characters moving through a simply told but multilayered story, rich in imagery and feeling. (Fiction. 11-13)