From School Library Journal
Grade 4–7—Kevin Pugh, 12, leads a couch-potato existence. While his father, Howie, recalls the glory of playing for the Chicago Bears and tries to motivate his son to follow in his footsteps, Kevin limits his football exposure to video games. Things change, though, when, flipping through channels, he tunes in to the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge and sees a terrier shatter the agility-course record. Kevin's dog is as sluggish as his owner, but he is mesmerized, so Kevin halfheartedly enrolls his pet in a training program, even though Dad dismisses dog agility as something less than a real sport. Although incredibly clumsy during training, boy and dog pull off a miraculous win in their first competition and qualify for the championship. The days following are anticlimactic: even after the win, Howie is unimpressed with Kevin's and Cromwell's efforts; they are not able to come anywhere close to the time they achieved during the Invitational; and Kevin feels like more of a loser than ever. Just as he is ready to walk out without competing, his father inspires him to leave the more experienced dogs in the dust yet again. In spite of a clichéd plot and caricaturelike secondary characters, Behrens's engaging style will appeal to children. Students will relate to likable Kevin's self-deprecating humor, and Cromwell's perseverance gives anyone with an unrealized dream a glimmer of hope.—Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
--This text refers to the
The couch potato son of a beloved Chicago football hero, Kevin Pugh has neither his father’s athletic talent nor ambition. His dog Cromwell, however, is an agility powerhouse, who makes up for his lack of style with innate talent and a love of the obstacle course. Kevin’s planned summer of loafing and gaming changes when he and Cromwell enter dog agility classes and competitions, which have an unforeseen result on Kevin’s own athleticism and self-esteem. This semi-sports story reads like a Cinderella tale in which the protagonist rises above his own apathy, rather than nasty relatives, to achieve hero status. Secondary characters, such as Elka, the eccentric trainer at the dog school, and Kevin’s best friend, Zach, who has grand visions of sponsorship deals for Cromwell, are effective foils. Plot surprises are few, but the abundant humor makes this a satisfying underdog story in the tradition of Gordon Korman’s and David Lubar’s novels. Grades 2-5. --Kara Dean
--This text refers to the