PHILO POTTS, or The Helping Hand Strikes Again by Mildred Ames

PHILO POTTS, or The Helping Hand Strikes Again

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Within a page of opening this slight, everyday-world adventure, Ames gives Philo Potts a tag-level trait (a penchant for collecting hats), establishes that he lives with his father in a trailer but wants a house, and tells us straight out that Philo, big for eleven, hasn't the inclination to make athletic use of his bulk or the brains to be a college professor--thus establishing also that this is one of those two-dimensional stories that settle for such shallow identifications. Philo's project, rescuing dogs, may appeal to others whose affections turn to animals, and the predicaments this gets him into could keep them reading but won't leave them moved. Egged on and abetted by Cristabel Hassel-back, a girl who becomes his friend in the course of the story, Philo dognaps the neglected mutt Mopey in order to pressure its owners to take more considerate care of their pet. Mopey is eventually returned, but meanwhile Philo and Cristable find themselves custodians of a pack of wild dogs, whom they decide to train and place in homes. All of this requires secrecy, which makes Philo uneasy, and he feels dashed and guilty when Mopey, who's been sick, infects the other dogs with a rare but often fatal disease. Worse, Philo is unhappy about his school-custodian father's new interest in a woman, and he learns from a 70-year-old neighbor, his baby-sitter of years' standing, that the wonderful mother he'd been told was dead really walked out on them when Philo was a baby. All of this precipitates his running away, to the vacant house where he's kept the dogs . . . and where, in an unduly trite ending, an encounter with two hold-up men leads to a general unburdening and reconciliation. Innocuous fodder for the undemanding constant reader.

Pub Date: Sept. 27th, 1982
Publisher: Scribners