Holiday House, 2013. 978-0823428694
Synopsis: When Peter Lubinsky finds himself telling his mother and sisters that he wants a dog for his twelfth birthday, he begins to wonder if there isn’t something weird going on. But after adopting The Dog and being told that the Dog needs his help to rescue his former master, things start to get even stranger. Not only can the Dog teach him how to fly and transport objects from one place to another just using his mind, but he might even be able to help Peter bring his Dad back from the Middle East…if Peter can survive a battle of the magicians with The Dog’s former master.
Why I picked it up: It was a featured title at the vendor’s booth at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in Chicago this last summer.
Why I finished it: Sackett’s debut novel is funny, sweet, and touching portrait of a family dealing with having their husband and father in a foreign country and the love that keeps them together even in the least ideal circumstances. Peter and his sisters, Celia and Izzy, have been moving around most of their lives depending on where their dad was sent by the Air Force and it is hard on the three of them and their mother to have to deal with the pain of missing a family member. The book gives us an idea of the struggles that kids with parents in the military have to deal with, namely the absence of a parent. The Dog gives Peter some hope though, that thing can change and that everything can be different. True, Peter isn’t the ideal candidate to be helping the Dog save his former master, but the Dog sees something in him that is different and special that will overcome the odds against him. The relationships between the characters are what really makes this story so magical. Peter is the oldest, so he shoulders a sort of burden helping to protect his younger sisters and help out his mother; Celia is the middle child that wants to be part of everything and is the person you talk to when you need to sort out a problem; Izzy is sweet and caring and loves her older siblings unconditionally, and this love is what plays such a big part in the story’s conclusion. Cute and imaginative, this book will entertain readers of all ages and shows that no matter how small we feel, we can always make a difference in the lives of our families.
Other related materials: Ukulele Hayley by Judy Cox, illustrated by Amanda Haley; Hunter Moran Hangs Out by Patricia Reilly Giff; The Hypnotists books by Gordan Korman; The Unseen World of Poppy Malone series by Suzanne Harper; Super Schnoz and the Gates of Smell by Gary Urey, illustrated by Ethan Long; The Desperate Adventures of Zeno and Alya by Jane Kelley; Turn Left at the Cow by Lisa Bullard; The 14 Fibs of Gregory K. by Greg Pincus; The Lost Boy by Greg Ruth; All the Wrong Questions books by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Seth; The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech