Will a boy’s dream of owning a puppy ever come true?
Twelve-year-old Sam has been keeping a scrapbook on dogs for five years, and this summer, he hopes to use it to find a job and get a German shepherd puppy of his own choosing. There are several obstacles. Sam has no money; a puppy might upset the elderly family dog; responsibilities could prevent Sam from working; and a local bully is ready to torment him. But Sam is determined, and with some help from his friends, he lands a job as a dog walker in a nearby gated community. As further ideas, themes, characters and plot points are thrown into the mix (an overweight friend; a single, working mother; a child beauty pageant; life in a culturally diverse community; money problems; injustice and bias; losing a job; learning to be yourself; experiencing a first date; having an older sibling leave home), the story wobbles under the weight and sometimes loses focus. Sam and his unconscious love for his dog rein the novel in and provide a satisfying if pat ending, as Sam learns to appreciate all he has.
Pleasant if imperfect, a treat for dog lovers. (Fiction. 8-12)