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Mountain Dog Hardcover – August 13, 2013


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Lexile Measure: 1050L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); 1 edition (August 13, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805095160
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805095166
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #136,695 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 4-7–Eleven-year-old Tony has had a tough life and now his mother, an immigrant, is in prison for training fighting pit bulls. Fortunately, his great uncle agrees to take him in. Tío is a forest ranger who, along with his dog Gabe, rescues people lost in the wilderness. Suddenly, Tony is living far from Los Angeles in the Sierra Nevada. Written in free verse, this story is told from the perspectives of Tony and Gabe. The chocolate lab senses the boy's internal struggles as he deals both with his sadness about his mother and his wonder at this beautiful new place. Wise and kind, Tío begins to train Tony to work with the rescue volunteers and gives his nephew the best gift of all when he welcomes him into his home permanently, helping him gain the confidence he needs to begin planning a positive future. Gabe's insights into Tony's struggles and his vividly captured doggy enthusiasm and devotion keep the story upbeat. The bond that develops between the canine and boy makes this book an inspiring read that will be especially believable to dog lovers. Black-and-white drawings appear throughout the story, and these empathetic depictions of the characters, animals, and setting capture the spirit of the text. A thoughtful and sensitive story that touches on immigration, family, and other serious issues.–Carol Schene, formerly at Taunton Public Schools, MAα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Tony moves to Sierra Nevada with his forest ranger great uncle, following his mother’s arrest for dog fighting. Tony quickly connects with Gabe, Tío Leonilo’s search-and-rescue dog. With the help of Gabe, and through writing a blog and poetry, Tony settles into his new life of search and rescue; Cowboy Church, with its dogs and horses; loud Gracie from school; and trips to visit his mother in prison. He works hard to overcome his fear of math, which had always meant calculating dog bets, so that he can study veterinary science in college. Tony’s transformation is told in free verse that alternates between Tony’s and Gabe’s voices. Clear, strong language captures Tony’s pain, and while the ending is tidy, his relationship with his mom remains complicated and honest. The details about search and rescue, the Pacific Coast trail, and dogs and bears keep the book’s action high and will appeal to wilderness fans. Black-and-white illustrations complete the package. Grades 3-6. --Suzanne Harold

Customer Reviews

The story is written in verse which makes for an interesting read.
S. Power
I highly recommend this book for younger readers even if they think their reading poetry.
Sylviastel
Tony comes to love Gabe and his uncle along with life in the mountains.
C. Stephans

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By aaa-Pam TOP 500 REVIEWER on August 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
**Some Possible Spoilers Depending on how you define 'spoiler'**

MOUNTAIN DOG is one of those few books that while I'm reading it I think 'Lit Class'. What I mean by that is that I would have much rather have read and discussed this book in English class than the Red Badge of Courage.

One reason I like the book --from a school sort of focus-- is that it's not overly long. Second it's told in a prose form that's a little different, and to top it off it's a story that I think is going to appeal to both genders. And finally, there is simply a lot to discuss. Possible topics range from dog fighting and animal rights, to prose format, immigration, a parent in prison, to nature, and healing.
.

The story is about a boy who's mom is not a good person. She is, in fact, just arrived in jail as the book begins for fighting pit bulls. She's the type of disgusting person that dragged her sweet son into this wretched world of dog baiting/killing; the type of person that has a tattooed tear for every dog of hers that died in a fight.

But the story only touches upon her peripherally, for the tale revolves around this boy who has been hurt by his mother, and the uncle and dog who tries to help heal him. I won't say more except to say that the narrative is divided between that of the boy, and that of the Uncle's dog, Gabe.

Which brings me to what worked for me, and didn't, and the dilemma I have as far as a Star Rating.

The boy's side of the story totally worked for me. I could feel and understand his confusion and fear. It was palpable how conflicted he was about his mother. He wants to see her, for example, but not every want to go back to live with her.

What didn't work for me so well was the dog's side of the story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Antigone Walsh VINE VOICE on August 31, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is the story of a young boy forced to participate in his mother's vicious dog fighting ring. When the mother is sent off to jail, he is fostered by a great uncle he didn't know he had. The uncle lives in a rural area and is active in search and rescue. For the first time, the young boy experiences the beauty life has to offer and the love and patience of both the uncle and the dog. The story is told from different points of view, including that of the dog.

I liked the idea of this book more than the execution. The ink drawings have appeal but the free verse is boring. The author is more successful communicating from the perspective of the dog than she is conveying the emotions of an embittered and abandoned urban tween. The flat prose lends little emotion to the story and the author missed an opportunity to express true revulsion against the brutality of dog fighting. She demonstrated little command of either criminal justice or foster care. Still the dogs are appealing and the camping/hiking tips are useful. The bland narration mutes otherwise hot button issues. Younger kids will doubt be entranced by the search and rescue dog but older ones will most likely be bored by the dull, one tone prose.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Cheryl Stout TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What a different type children's book this is! It is told in alternating chapters from the perspectives of Tony, a boy, and Gabe, a rescue dog. Tony goes to live with his great-uncle Tío Leonilo, who is a forest ranger and also a Search and Rescue worker, after his mother is put in prison for dog fighting with pit bulls.

The book does a wonderful job telling about Search and Rescue operations in the Sierra Nevada mountains. But what it does an even better job of is telling the reader about Tony's feelings. He's lonely, scared, wanting to hear from his mother but not really, and finally hopeful for a different, disciplined life.

I loved this book. I thought it very age appropriate for 8-12 year olds, grades 3-6, and I think both boys and girls will like the story. I thought the manner in which the author formatted her chapters was unusual - it read like poetry - and moved very quickly.

I also liked the black and white illustrations done by Olga and Aleksey Ivanov. They added nicely to the story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J.Prather TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 31, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I don't usually gravitate to stories written in verse, and probably would have never picked up Mountain Dog if I had been aware of its format. I am very glad I didn't miss out on this charming story of a young boy struggling to find where he belongs, and a dog determined to help him get there. The imagery is beautifully done, and the feelings all come across as authentic and true.

When Tony's mother is sent to jail for dog fighting ("turning meanness into money"), the young boy is sent to stay with his great uncle, who lives in the mountains. He finds life much different there, without the stress of school bullies, dog fighting, and a mother who calls him a loser. He meets Gabe, a search and rescue dog, and learns much about the mechanics of wilderness survival, being lost, and most importantly, the comfort to be had in being found.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and welcomed the poetic language and hopeful plot. The author hints at some very hard truths when she details Tony's emotions when he visits his mother in prison. It's not a typical happy ending for the mom, and as a parent myself I found the passages describing their interactions hard to read. Some of these hard edges are softened by Gabe's narrative voice as he takes turns with the story, describing smells that rhyme, and the beauty of roundness. I found his portions of the story to be especially effective as he laments his inability to understand sadness even as he tries to help Tony overcome his.

Mountain Dog is a perfect recommend for young readers grade four and up. Despite Tony's awful family situation, young readers will find much in his character to relate to as he eloquently describes his struggles with school, friends, and finding his place. This will have appeal to both boys and girls, and I can't wait to begin recommending it to our young library patrons.
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More About the Author

Margarita Engle is the Cuban-American winner of the first Newbery Honor ever awarded to a Latino. Her award winning young adult novels in verse include The Surrender Tree, The Poet Slave of Cuba, and The Lightning Dreamer, winner of the PEN USA Award.

Engle's most recent books are Orangutanka, Drum Dream Girl, The Sky Painter, and Enchanted Air. All of these books are to be released in 2015. For news and updates, visit http://margaritaengle.com/

She lives in central California, where she enjoys helping her husband with his volunteer work for wilderness search and rescue dog training programs.

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