Monday, September 16, 2013

Middle School Monday: Soldier Dog by Sam Angus

Soldier Dog
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Stanley believes Da has destroyed Soldier, Stanley’s beloved half-breed pup, so he flees home for the western front of WWI in hopes of locating his brother Tom. It’s no wonder: Da disdains everything and everyone, thrashing around in a bleak, bitter depression ever since his wife died, and making Stanley’s life unbearable. In Angus’ vividly written first novel, based on the British Army’s Messenger Dog Service, Stanley fibs about his age, enlists, learns of the messenger dog service, and becomes a trainer. The dogs work heroically as runners across the battlefields of France, carrying communiqués about enemy whereabouts. The action is highly dramatic, and readers will feel catapulted into the trenches, surrounded on all sides, at a time when an Allied victory was by no means assured. Stanley’s two charges, first Bones and then Pistol, will thrill readers with their canine derring-do. True, the miraculous coincidences pile up a bit awkwardly in this affecting heart-warmer, but you probably won’t find a more exciting dog story out there. Grades 5-8. --Anne O'Malley           

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