FICTION

Yellow Dog

264p. Red Deer. Mar. 2017. pap. $12.95. ISBN 9780889955462.
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Gr 6–9—With little to do in a small Canadian town, it is easy to drift into trouble, and that is where 13-year-old Jeremy is headed. His friend Justin constantly eggs on his acts of mischief, as on the day he dares Jeremy to pull off the tail of a yellow dog that they spy outside a cabin at the edge of town. Anxious to please Justin, Jeremy complies, but he finds himself conscious-stricken at hurting the friendly dog. To make reparations, Jeremy begins hanging around the dog, offering him food and friendship. The old man who owns the dog notices Jeremy and reaches out with small overtures of friendship. Although Jeremy's widowed mother orders him to stay away from the old man, the boy is drawn to the dog and the old man's stories about running a dogsled team. When Jeremy adopts three of the many stray dogs roaming the town and starts training his own dog team, his friendship with Justin is tested as the other boy reacts jealously to Jeremy's new interest. Eventually, lives and relationships hang in the balance as things spin out of control. Körner, a Saskatchewan resident and sled dog owner, vividly portrays life in the Canadian north, including a shocking scene with a stray dog, and seeds the novel with authentic dog team culture and history.
VERDICT Hand this touching coming-of-age adventure to fans of Gary Paulsen's Hatchet.

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