From School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-Life is never dull for Zoe and Alice. Their mother rescues Great Pyrenees dogs until a new home can be found and their father is a veterinarian. Enormous dogs are always roaming their family's rural home and white fur is always flying everywhere. When the sisters meet their new neighbor, Phillip, they are left with many questions. Phillip has gone silent. What happened that would cause him to stop speaking? Does he believe that he is the cause of his parents' problems? MacLachlan shares with young audiences a touching story of compassion, trust, and patience. She weaves the themes of family and friendship throughout the narrative, peppering her well-paced plot with sufficient tension and avoiding an overdramatization of its climax. Like many of the author's best stories, this one is told simply and gently with touches of light humor. The clear prose, combined with the brevity of the narrative, make the book an ideal selection for young readers, reluctant readers, and animal lovers everywhere. Children will feel satisfied as they discover that both dogs and boys can be rescued, and many will be pleasantly surprised that they can also rescue one another.-Elly Schook, Jamieson Elementary School, Chicagoα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
MacLachlan delivers yet another understated, quietly inspirational chapter book with this tale of a boy who emerges from his shell via some canny canine intervention. Young Zoe lives in the country with her family of four and an ever-shifting cast of Great Pyrenees dogs, which Zoe’s mom rescues, trains, and then gives away to new owners. Kodi is the only dog to live with them constantly, and he mourns each time of one his companions leaves. Enter nine-year-old Phillip, sent to live with his aunt while his parents resolve an unspecified dispute. Phillip will not speak to anyone—except Kodi. “Maybe that is what Kodi and Phillip know about each other,” says Zoe. “They’re both left behind.” Preternaturally wise (and sometimes stilted) kid dialogue aside, this is tailor-made for beginning readers looking for a gentle handling of powerfully felt emotions. There is only one dramatic incident of note—Phillip disappears during a hailstorm to chase after a dog he’s come to love—and it is swiftly tidied up for the inevitable, but sweet, happy ending. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The long shadow of the Newbery-winning Sarah, Plain and Tall (1985) continues to make each MacLachlan offering something of an event. Grades 2-4. --Daniel Kraus