by Margarita Engle, illustrations by Aleksky and Olga Ivanov
Henry Holt and Company, 2013
Written in poem, told in two voices, 11 year old Tony, and his rescue dog Gabe captured me and lifted me to a new understanding of healing after living in an abusive home. Deftly written, readers glimpse into a boys transition in life dealing with an abusive lifestyle, foster care, search and rescue dogs, and learning love and respect. A compelling, change-of-life story.
Tony’s mother goes to prison for illegally running pit-bulls fights and Tony falls into the foster system. Fortunately, a relative is found and Tony goes to live with his loving and respectful Uncle Tio who volunteers on rescue missions with his dog. In this environment, wary Tony discovers and adjusts to a new life. Throughout the story Tony struggles to visit his mom in prison, but in the end gives up and chooses to live his own life.
Seeing the world from a dog’s perspective—the second voice in the story—is also fascinating and held my attention, curious on what a dog might be really thinking. The story is rich with ideas to ponder.