From School Library Journal
Grade 4-8–Like Matthews's Fish
(Delacorte, 2004), this is a tale about a journey of discovery and the importance of holding onto the things that matter in troubled times. John Hawkins, the narrator, and his brother, Tom, have a dog that can communicate with them psychically. When Tom becomes ill, the doctor says that the pup must go, but the boys know that Mouse is essential to Tom's recovery. To keep the canine from being sent to the pound, John and Mouse set out on a journey to find a temporary home for the dog with an uncle they haven't seen in years. Along the way, they encounter an ineffectual New Age healer and her family, a scientist who performs experiments on stolen animals, and a persecuted Roma family who help them reach their goal. Although John and Mouse encounter some disturbing situations, the childlike tone and magical elements of the narrative keep it age appropriate. Mouse is an engaging character whose wry observations of the foibles of human beings contrast with John's naïveté, and readers will be rooting for the pair to succeed in their quest. Highly enjoyable.–Kathleen E. Gruver, Burlington County Library, Westampton, NJ
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*Starred Review* As young John Hawkins tells it, you may have heard his story: on a journey from the north of England to the south, John and his dog, Mouse, save a drowning child, rescue several ponies marked for death by a money-grubbing scientist, and make sure a gypsy family is safe from a mob. But John feels no one has gotten his story quite right, so he's telling it himself, beginning when his older brother, Tom, is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Then comes more disheartening news: Tom's susceptibility to infection means no pets are allowed. But Mouse is no ordinary dog. Mouse, Tom, John share a special bond: they can read each other's thoughts, and together they come up with a plan. John will head to the home of the boys' uncle, and leave Mouse there until Tom recovers. Yes, there are problems with the plan. They haven't been in touch with Uncle David for years, and there's not enough money for a train ticket. But that doesn't stop the intrepid travelers. This is a little gem--part adventure and part heartfelt family story, dusted with magic realism. True, the premise is a little weak, but after that initial head-scratcher, the story sails forward in picaresque fashion, told in John's resolute voice. Everything is a bit unexpected here, except for the satisfying end. Ilene CooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved