Fourth-grader Vilonia takes on more than she bargains for trying to prove she’s responsible enough to adopt a dog.
Freckle-faced white tomboy Vilonia has a “reputation for taking in destitute creatures” and wants a dog. When Vilonia’s beloved Nana died a few weeks ago, her grieving mother withdrew in “one sad funk.” With her father overloaded running the house, Vilonia has been secretly handling her mother’s job writing obituaries for the local paper. A poster at the animal shelter convinces Vilonia a dog would be great therapy for her mother. When she hears about a litter of new puppies needing homes, Vilonia volunteers to take care of the school librarian’s pet goldfish, Max, during semester break. If she can take care of Max for a week, surely her father will agree she’s responsible enough for a dog. When Max dies unexpectedly (and inevitably), Vilonia must find a replacement goldfish quickly or lose her chances of adopting a puppy. Vilonia narrates her story with a colloquial Mississippi twang, punctuating self-effacing descriptions of her well-meaning but oft ill-fated actions with worry about her mother, desire for a dog, and longing for her grandmother. Textual references to Because of Winn Dixie resonate.
A humorous, poignant, realistic debut story about a very responsible little girl who’s a “force of nature.” (Fiction. 8-12)