Donald McCaig has been awarded a fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Prix Literaire by the Societe Protectrice des Animaux, and multiple awards by the Dog Writers Association of America. He recalls that fall afternoon in 1987 when he and his dog, Pip, came in fifth at the Edgeworth Open Sheep Dog Trial. They beat some pretty good dogs that day.McCaig is the author of five novels including Canaan and Jacob's Ladder. He lives in the mountains of West Virginia with his wife and runs a sheep farm with the help of his border collies.
This quietly moving sequel to Nop's Trials is both a poignant study of one woman's struggle with overwhelming grief and a heartfelt celebration of the love between humans and dogs. Mourning her husband and young daughter, who have died in a car accident, destitute teacher Penny Burkeholder sets off from Virginia in a pickup truck with her black-and-white Border collie, Hope, to travel the sheepdog trial circuit--the county fairs, ranches and farms from Florida to Oregon where trained dogs and their handlers compete for cash prizes. Penny's father, Lewis, featured in Nop's Trials , and Hope's sire, wise old Nop himself, make appearances as Penny, emotionally numbed by her tragedy, reconciles with her parents at the national championship in Wyoming. Throughout, McCaig anthropomorphizes the competing dogs (``Hope grinned at him. `Tomorrow I shall work woolies. Tomorrow and the day after. Oh, I am a fine stockdog' '') in order to evoke their thoughts and emotions. Although this is a less than sophisticated approach to canine consciousness, it effectively makes the dogs an integral part of this unpretentious tale, which is told in lean, crisp prose. Hope in particular, a boundlessly willing, intelligent, powerful and savvy dog who protects and comforts his owner, will win readers' hearts. (May)
YA-Coping with the accidental death of her husband and young child, Penny competes in the Border collie trials throughout the nation. Talented Hope, son of Nop (Nop's Trials [Lyons & Burford, 1992]), learns from experience and does better and better, winning prize money and prestige. McCaig's love of dogs and this breed is shown in details of competition and the relationship between the animal and the owner/ trainer. A delightful diversion occurs when he shows what the dogs are thinking or saying about their owners or their surroundings. A sense of adventure is maintained as Penny takes jobs to earn money or competes with Hope. As her mother and father have an important role in the story, YAs will see that parents continue to participate in the lives of their adult children. A short, easy-to-read novel with lots of dialogue.-Claudia Moore, W.T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA