A relatable female protagonist and a meaningful message about the relationship between hurt and anger.


A grade schooler’s determination to tame a fearful, aggressive pup with love brings both trouble and unexpected change in this children’s novel.

Everything has gone wrong for Samantha “Sammy” Connor since the death of her beloved grandfather Papa Jack. She and her single mom had to move after he died; money is short; and Sammy is messing up at her elementary school. The girl also feels distanced from her mom, an artist who spends a lot of time in her ceramics studio. When Sammy sees chained-up pup Jack being cruelly mistreated by school bully Brian Haydon’s teenage brothers, she persuades her classmate to sell Jack to her, earning the money by reading to an elderly woman at the local seniors’ home. Sammy soon wonders, though, if kindness will be enough to change the barking, lunging, destructive “devil dog” into a loving pet. She comes to see a parallel in Brian’s anger when she witnesses him being denigrated and physically abused by his bad news brothers—and comes up with a plan to rescue him too. But “why was it that when she tried so hard, things kept going wrong?” Jack chews things up, won’t listen, and nips at people. Brian comes to school with bruises and keeps shoving kids and mouthing off to teachers. Then a shockingly violent incident occurs, bringing eventful consequences for Jack, renewed closeness between Sammy and her mom, and the girl’s sad realization that she can’t be Brian’s rescuer. As her mom says, “people have to fix themselves.” In this novel, Brown (Not Yet Summer, 2017, etc.), a prolific author of books for ages 9 and up, offers an affecting portrait of a young girl struggling to recover a sense of stability after a profound loss. Sammy’s ups and downs with her mom, who is caring but self-absorbed with professional and money concerns, ring true. And principal Jeanne Martinez and counselor Mrs. Sovich are sympathetic adults. The story also presents a powerful lesson about the effects of bullying. The ethnicity and race of the characters are not stated, although the book cover shows a young white girl and there is a mention of Sammy’s best friend’s Japanese grandparents.

A relatable female protagonist and a meaningful message about the relationship between hurt and anger.

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5447-9935-3

Page Count: 286

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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