Good Dog

304p. Scholastic. Mar. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781338053883.
Gr 3–5—A good-hearted mutt named Brodie awakes from death to find himself in an idyllic landscape, surrounded by other dogs with nothing to do but run and play. As memories intermittently return from his life, he realizes dimly that he must go back to the cold and perilous world to reunite with his loyal boy, Aiden, and protect him from an as-yet-uncertain threat. Along with a Staffordshire terrier called Tuck and an irascible cat named Patsy, Brodie puts his soul at tremendous risk, battling roving hellhounds and learning to navigate the confusing realm of life after death. When he finds Aiden and seeks to confront the boy's abusive father, known only as "the monster," it takes everything Brodie has left to avert disaster. The narrator's voice, apparently omniscient but eventually revealed to be a character in the story, quickly becomes obtrusive and distracting, characterized by stylistic tics such as frequent repetitions of "Believe me" and constantly framing exposition with a sort of rhetorical inquiry ("Because Brodie? His heart had a compass needle that never lost its way."). Despite its mawkish pageant of souls and angels, this novel provides enough dramatic tension and narrative twists to carry dog-loving readers through.
VERDICT A secondary purchase for elementary schools and some middle schools where animal stories are in demand.

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