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Shiloh Season

by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

It should startle no one that the prolific Naylor (the Alice books) should continue the boy-and-his-dog story begun in her Newbery Medal winner Shiloh?nor will fans be startled that Naylor maintains the previous work's lump-in-the-throat vibrato. As the novel begins, Marty Preston relishes the companionship of his beagle, Shiloh, at last protected from the abuses of his former owner, Judd Travers. But Marty's happiness is shadowed by doubts about the way he acquired the dog?through a combination of honest work and outright blackmail. When Judd takes to drinking and then to hunting on the Prestons' property, Marty worries that Judd will target Shiloh as his prey. Marty's conflicts are a bit more labored here than in the previous book, but Naylor so perceptively conveys the strength of his affections and the scope of his fears that she amply compensates for narrative shortcomings. She broadens the West Virginia setting to show Marty at school; in an especially graceful moment, Marty's teacher takes him aside and gently explains the different roles of "family talk" (i.e., Marty's vernacular) and grammatical speech. The author's sympathy for her characters, both the good guys and those who menace them, communicates itself almost invisibly to the reader, who may well come away hoping for a full-fledged Shiloh series. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 3-5-Picking up where Shiloh (Atheneum, 1991) left off, this is a less powerful, but still satisfying sequel. Judd Travers is just as nasty as ever; someone has been playing pranks on him, and he is convinced it is Marty Preston. Worse yet, the man still considers Shiloh his dog. Knowing that he acquired his beloved beagle by blackmailing Judd, Marty worries that he will get the dog back. When the boy asks Doc Murphy if he did the right thing, the Doc wisely replies, "...what's right in one situation, may be wrong in another. You have to decide-that's the hard part." In a love-your-enemy style conclusion, Marty realizes that the only way to resolve the situation is for him to try to understand and forgive Judd.. The moral predicaments are not as complex as in the previous book, but the tension never lags and Marty and his supportive family are likable. Martyr's ambitions for education within the context of his working-class family are nicely handled, and Naylor skillfully develops the character of evil Judd and then makes his final affectionate gesture both understated and believable. This is sure to be popular with both able and reluctant readers.-Caroline Ward, Nassau Library System, Uniondale, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Gr. 4^-8. Shiloh has belonged to 11-year-old Marty Preston for a month when this gripping sequel to Naylor's 1992 Newbery Medal winner, Shiloh, opens. Although Marty has earned Shiloh by working for the dog's loathsome former owner, Judd Travers now wants Shiloh back. What's more, the resentful Judd is now drunk most of the time and hunting illegally on the Prestons' property. Pervading the book is the plausible fear that Judd will shoot or run down a member of the Preston family--including Shiloh--when he's hunting or driving while drunk. Ironically, Shiloh saves Judd's life by barking an alarm when Judd's out-of-control truck runs off the road. Taking a lesson from the research he has been doing for a school report on becoming a veterinarian and training mean dogs, Marty determinedly tries to tame Judd while he is laid up after his accident. Marty leaves food for Judd and writes him letters, working at showing kindness to a man who has never known any. Throughout the story, Marty is haunted by his decision--pivotal to the plot of the first book--to cover up Judd's killing of a deer out of season. Here, Marty learns that decisions don't necessarily get easier as you get older. Taut with suspense, touched by a fine sense of humanity, and narrated in an authentic West Virginia dialect, this compelling page-turner will be in justifiable demand. --Ellen Mandel