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Shiloh

by Phyllis Reynolds Taylor

Publishers Weekly In the tradition of Sounder and Where the Red Fern Grows comes this boy-and-his-dog story set in rural West Virginia. When he finds a mistreated beagle pup, 11-year-old Marty knows that the animal should be returned to its rightful owner. But he also realizes that the dog will only be further abused. So he doesn't tell his parents about his discovery, sneaks food for the dog and gets himself into a moral dilemma in trying to do the right thing. Without breaking new ground, Marty's tale is well told, with a strong emphasis on family and religious values. This heartwarming novel should win new fans for the popular Naylor. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)

Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book list Gr. 4-8. In the West Virginia hill country, folks mind each other's privacy and personal rights, a principle that is respected in 11-year-old Marty Preston's family and reinforced by a strict code of honor--no lying, cheating, or taking what isn't yours. When a beagle he names Shiloh follows him home, Marty painfully learns that right and wrong are not always black and white. Marty's dad realizes that the beagle is Judd Travers' new hunting dog and insists they return Shiloh to his rightful owner, even though they both know that Judd keeps his dogs chained and hungry to make them more eager hunters. Sure enough, Judd claims the dog and greets him with a hard kick to his scrawny sides. Marty worries about Shiloh being abused and makes plans to buy the dog . . . if Judd will sell him. Then Shiloh runs away again, and Marty secretly shelters the dog, beginning a chain of lies as he takes food and covers his tracks. Though troubled about deceiving his family, Marty reasons, "a lie don't seem a lie anymore when it's meant to save a dog." The West Virginia dialect richly seasons the true-to-life dialogue. Even when the Prestons care for Shiloh after he is nearly killed by another dog, Mr. Preston insists Shiloh be returned to Judd if he recovers; however, Marty makes a deal with the malicious Judd to earn Shiloh for his own. Not until the final paragraph can readers relax--every turn of the plot confronts them with questions. Like Marty, readers gain understanding, though not acceptance, of Judd's tarnished character. Fueled by the love and trust of Shiloh, Marty displays a wisdom and strength beyond his years. Naylor offers a moving and powerful look at the best and the worst of human nature as well as the shades of gray that color most of life's dilemmas. ~--Ellen Mandel

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 4-6-- Marty Preston, 11, is a country boy who learns that things are often not what they seem, and that adults are not always ``fair'' in their dealings with other people. Marty finds a stray dog that seems to be abused and is determined to keep it at all costs. Because his family is very poor, without money to feed another mouth, his parents don't want any pets. Subsequently, there is a lot of conflict over the animal within the family and between Marty and Judd Travers, the dog's owner. Honesty and personal relations are both mixed into the story. Naylor has again written a warm, appealing book. However, readers may have difficulty understanding some of the first-person narration as it is written in rural West Virginian dialect. Marty's father is a postman--usually one of the better paying positions in rural areas--yet the family is extremely poor. There seems to be an inconsistency here. This title is not up to Naylor's usual high quality. --Kenneth E. Kowen, Atascocita Middle School Library, Humble, TX

Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

 

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