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About the Author

Valerie Hobbs is the recipient of the 1999 PEN/Norma Klein Award, a biennial prize that recognizes "an emerging voice of literary merit among American writers of children's fiction." She is the author of young adult and middle-grade novels including Defiance, Anything but Ordinary, and The Last Best Days of Summer. She holds a B.A. and an M.A. in English from the University of California at Santa Barbara, where she has taught academic writing. Valerie lives in Santa Barbara, California, with her husband.

Reviews

Gr 2-5-With a sure hand, Hobbs develops an engaging story told through the eyes of a border collie whose purposeful existence on Bob and Ellen's sheep ranch ends abruptly after a fire. From that point the canine's name changes as he moves from person to person, situation to situation. Some are tolerable: the Goat Man talks philosophically as he journeys nowhere in particular along the highway. Others are intolerably cruel: when the dog refuses to perform a humiliating act, the circus trainer beats him mercilessly. The character of the dog is sympathetically delineated through realistic observations and plot developments, and readers will be drawn into his story. The resolution-his connection to an orphan boy who also finds a home-is both believable and satisfying. This title will have appeal for independent readers searching for a shorter book; it will also make a strong read-aloud choice for a broad range of grade levels. It's a winner.-Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

A Border collie, Jack, narrates his story of multiple homes, owners and names in this flawed outing by Hobbs (Tender; Defiance). When lightning destroys the California sheep ranch of his puppyhood, Jack is sold to a pet shop. He flees his mismatched adoptive family, then drifts from one human to another. Ever hopeful of reconnecting with the higher calling of his breed (herding sheep), Jack settles over "a good many dog years" for food and companionship. There's a happy interlude with the itinerant "Goat Man" and a hardscrabble turn with a pair of homeless thieves. Jack performs in a circus run by the brutal Billy, and falls in love with the baleful, elegant dog Tiffany. When (another) fire breaks out, Jack herds an angry elephant away from the fleeing crowd, then escapes (with Tiffany's maudlin blessing); eventually his good turn with an orphan helps Jack, too, land the perfect home-a sheep ranch. Much strains credulity here: Jack's hard times and heroics evoke not so much the likes of Lad: A Dog or The Incredible Journey, as the bathos of a Disney feature. While Hobbs captures some doggy details well (such as Jack's preoccupation with smells), stereotypical characters, the too-human narration, and Jack's unsettling habit of referring to characters by inferred names (e.g., Hollerin, Retardo), ultimately detract from the thrust of the tale. Ages 8-12. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"The classic foundling story is beautifully told in the dog's simple, first-person voice." --Booklist"Believable and satisfying. It's a winner." --School Library Journal"The attitude that carries Jack through adventure after adventure . . . will win readers over and keep them rooting for him all the way." --Kirkus Reviews"Children who love animal stories will delight in this first person--or should I say first-dog?--tale." --Entertainment Weekly"Hobbs portrays the ups and downs of life both humorously and sensitively as seen and felt by a very special border collie; a story that young readers will remember as a journey of the heart." --Signal The classic foundling story is beautifully told in the dog's simple, first-person voice. "Booklist" Believable and satisfying. It's a winner. "School Library Journal" The attitude that carries Jack through adventure after adventure . . . will win readers over and keep them rooting for him all the way. "Kirkus Reviews" Children who love animal stories will delight in this first person--or should I say first-dog?--tale. "Entertainment Weekly" Hobbs portrays the ups and downs of life both humorously and sensitively as seen and felt by a very special border collie; a story that young readers will remember as a journey of the heart. "Signal"" "The classic foundling story is beautifully told in the dog's simple, first-person voice."-"Booklist""Believable and satisfying. It's a winner."-"School Library Journal""The attitude that carries Jack through adventure after adventure . . . will win readers over and keep them rooting for him all the way."-"Kirkus Reviews""Children who love animal stories will delight in this first person-or should I say first-dog?-tale."-"Entertainment Weekly" "Hobbs portrays the ups and downs of life both humorously and sensitively as seen and felt by a very special border collie; a story that young readers will remember as a journey of the heart."-"Signal" "The classic foundling story is beautifully told in the dog's simple, first-person voice."--"Booklist""Believable and satisfying. It's a winner."--"School Library Journal""The attitude that carries Jack through adventure after adventure . . . will win readers over and keep them rooting for him all the way."--"Kirkus Reviews""Children who love animal stories will delight in this first person--or should I say first-dog?--tale."--"Entertainment Weekly" "Hobbs portrays the ups and downs of life both humorously and sensitively as seen and felt by a very special border collie; a story that young readers will remember as a journey of the heart."--"Signal"

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