Katherine Tegen. Aug. 2019. 320p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062839220.
Gr 4-7–Interwoven chapters alternate between an 11-year-old girl whose family arrives at a shelter in Salt Lake City, and a young dog who belongs to another homeless person. The human protagonist, Piper, narrates her close-knit family’s situation and their interactions with helpful people and programs in an engaging, warm, and upbeat voice. While she briefly touches upon her own sadness and embarrassment about being homeless, Piper focuses on her advocacy for Baby, the dog. Because of mental illness and her refusal to give up her dog, Baby’s human, Jewell, can’t take advantage of many of the services offered to Piper’s family. Baby’s chapters are written in a semi-lyrical style from a third-person omniscient point of view, evoking innocent and energetic doggy-ish dedication, love, and longing. Although sad and unjust situations abound, Pyron keeps a light touch and focuses on the positive. She keeps a secular perspective while acknowledging the roles of various Christian programs, and fulfills Piper’s need for belonging with a Girl Scout–like group. Jewell, Piper, and Piper’s family are all white; people of color are depicted among secondary characters.
VERDICT This title is an excellent book for raising awareness and empathy

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