The Good Dog by Avi (J Fiction)

The Good Dog

Avi (J Fiction)

McKinley was a good dog who lived a good life. He was part of a caring family, loved by his human pup Jack, had lots of friends, and held the distinction of being head dog of the Steamboat pack. Yes, life for the malamute was very good until the day a she-wolf by the name of Lupin arrived. Her words of freedom and wild enticed McKinley as he began to feel the burden of taking care of both his pack and his pup. Lupin had him questioning his life as a bound dog…a slave to humans and their will. As McKinley begins to witness the cruelty that humans were capable of, would he submit to his wolf ancestry and join Lupin to live a life without rules and conditions? What would a good dog do?

Although this story was written in the third person, Avi delights readers with a story told from a dog’s perspective. He gives us street names like Most Cars Way, Pine Smell Way, and Elk Scat Way. Jack loves to look at his staring papers (a book) while his parents seem mesmerized by their glow box (TV) and during the day, all the pups go to their special house (school). Avi shows us McKinley constantly “marking” certain areas so that his pack will know his comings and goings, he goes through the ritual of when dogs meet each other, and even describes McKinley’s frustration while trying to convey a rather simple concept to Jack (humans can be SO thick at times).

Avi checks all the right boxes with The Good Dog: age appropriate, an engaging story, memorable characters, great moral lessons, plenty of action and suspense, a few detestable villains, a hero who questions his purpose, some surprising twists, and an ending that’s sure to please. This book shows readers the value of loyalty, honor, and courage and illustrates how bloodline doesn’t dictate who your family is or where your future lies. Countless times McKinley is always looking out for Jack or a member of his pack and although he reaps both the rewards and punishments of his actions, these selfless acts make it clear why he was chosen to be head dog.

Throughout the book, McKinley was a friend, a best friend, a companion, a nemesis, a hero, a champion, and a leader. At the end of the day though, McKinley was just a dog, but more than that, he was a good dog.

Rating: 5/5

* Book cover image attributed to:

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Sophia’s War by Avi (J)

Sophias War

Sophia’s War 

Avi (Juvenile Historical Fiction)

It’s 1776 and the War for Independence has arrived at Sophia Calderwood’s front door.  Before long, New York City is occupied by British troops and every citizen chooses a side: loyalist or patriot.  To be a patriot is dangerous, but to be a spy is a death sentence.  They hang spies.  But Sophia needs to do something to help and, despite the risks, she utters four words that would change the course of her life, and possibly, the revolution: “I wish to help.”

Avi has given us a compelling and dramatic story that is about as close to an actual history book as you can get.  Other than Sophia and her family, every character in this book is real; however, what I appreciate most about this story is the light Avi sheds on the darkness that was the British prisons.  Those that lost their personal freedom fighting for their country’s freedom endured starvation, disease, cold, filth, and neglect.  A soldier whose life was spared on the battlefield most likely lost it while in prison.  Evidence points to the fact that nearly 18,000 people died in Britain’s New York prisons, while some 7,000 died on the battlefield.  And this was in New York alone.

This book is targeted for ages 7 to 12, but there are sections that tend to get a bit weighty with the names of numerous battles and their commanders.  This might prove a little overwhelming for readers on the younger end of the scale, but for those in the upper elementary-age bracket, this book provides an informative glimpse into the Revolutionary War and one of history’s most famous traitors.  Truly a thrilling and worthy read that ends with highly dramatic, parallel storylines that serve as an 18th century version of Spy vs. Spy.

Rating: 4/5

Posted: 7/31/2018

* Book cover image attributed to