Note: No dogs were harmed in the writing of this book!
On the first day of summer vacation, Ben is sitting in his dad's truck, on the way to rescue a border collie pup when he learns that his dad has quit his job to start flipping houses, and it's before 6:00 am. Thus starts an unbelievable whirlwind trip. To get back at his dad, Ben invites his friend, Theo, who is rather troubled but trying to set his life straight. Also there's Atticus, a 15 year-old border collie that has his own opinions of this trip. This strange group sets off to rescue a border collie and they pick up a mechanic, Gus, and a bus when the truck breaks down, then pick up Mia at a diner where she's just quit her job. All throughout this book, there are wacky hijinks and soulful heart-to-hearts, all culminating in the retrieval of a very lucky pup. Atticus has his own say at the end of each chapter, and his insights are what really make the book. A great book for dog lovers!
Gary Paulsen wrote this book with his son, Jim, which I was not thrilled about that at first. The introduction explains how they came about this arrangement quite by accident and it turned into a story. All in all, it works. This book is extremely fictional--no adventure would run so smoothly and it's hard to believe that the characters would be so accepting and forgiving to Theo, but it's a wonderful what if?. What if the world were really that way? What if a saving a troubled kid were as easy as adopting a puppy?
But young readers are not going to ask these types of questions most likely. They will be laughing about the drag race between the police cruiser and school bus. This is a charming book. It's a perfect book for fourth or fifth graders that don't really want to read, but will get hooked anyway, because who doesn't love a border collie? It's heartwarming, and I hope to see it on the Bluestem list in a couple of years.
This is a solid Middle Grade Fiction novel and as such, it's not a cross over book. Adults will not be clamoring to read this, but it's a sweet book that teachers and librarians will have no trouble reading and recommending. If this book finds it's way to your to-read pile, pick it up, it's a quick light read that will make you smile.