THE POET'S DOG by Patricia MacLachlan
Kirkus Star


Age Range: 6 - 12
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An unusual dog rescues two children from a storm.

Teddy, an Irish wolfhound, has lived with Sylvan, a poet, in a rural cabin ever since his rescue from a shelter. Teddy learns human language, but Sylvan tells the dog only poets and children will understand when he speaks. When Sylvan sickens and dies, Teddy stays on at the cabin, and during a blizzard a few days later, Teddy finds two children, Flora, 8, and Nickel, 11, lost in the storm. (Oddly, the cover illustration shows the children as black-haired and brown-skinned, but in the text Nickel is described as having blond hair, implying whiteness.) Teddy leads the children to Sylvan’s cabin, where they make it a cozy shelter. The narrative interweaves Teddy’s remembrances of living with Sylvan with the present adventure. The three converse (Sylvan was right about that), and themes of being left and being rescued are explored as Teddy explains how Sylvan died and the children explain how they ended up alone outside in the blizzard. Thrumming throughout is the children’s unexpressed worry of what will happen to Teddy when their parents retrieve them. This is resolved in the best way possible and could, in the hands of a less refined writer, have become pat. MacLachlan’s treatment, however, is magical.

A quiet, elegant, poignant story suffused with humor, heart, and goodness. (Fantasy. 6-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-06-229262-9
Page count: 112pp
Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2016


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