Zeus, Dog of Chaos

HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. Jun. 2020. 320p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062885937.
Gr 3-7–Readers who have always wondered what their pets are really thinking will love this cleverly written story from the perspective of Zeus, a German shepard service dog. Raised in a program that trains puppies before they are adopted by their owners, Zeus is a lovable and protective companion to Madden, who has Type I diabetes and experiences life-threating blood sugar fluctuations. Getting a service animal was his mom’s idea, and their relationship gets off to a rough start. At first, Madden isn’t keen on bringing Zeus to school where the animal draws attention to his health concerns. Zeus’s training to alert Madden (and others) when his blood sugar levels are dangerous, is more evident in music class where the boy plays the physically taxing tuba. Amid all this, Zeus fears he will be reassigned. On the surface, the book appears to be a simple story about the developing bond between a boy and his service dog. But there are also so many unanswered questions along the way, particularly about Madden’s strained relationship with his family. This intriguing subplot, along with short chapters, will keep readers engaged. Appended material from the author on the service dog training process reinforces some of the information introduced in the story. The author’s decision to write the book from Zeus’s perspective is fun and entertaining. Young readers who love dogs, play an instrument in band, or have experience with invisible illness will relate to Madden and his desire to just be a regular middle-school kid.
VERDICT The story, the characters, and the irresistible canine protagonist will be enjoyed by a wide range of readers..

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