Tom's grandfather is recovering from heart surgery, so during summer vacation Tom is helping him with his hunting dog business. It's hard work, but Tom doesn't mind so much after he falls in love with one of the pups, a rare blue-eyed pointer Tom names Tad. It's almost as if Tad understands when Tom talks to him, especially about confusing things like how hard it is to write to Angie, a girl Tom met on vacation.
The trouble is, Grandpa promised the owner of the pup's sire the pick of the litter, and it's pretty clear that's Tad. Tom knows what he should do, but he can't help hoping there's a way to get around Grandpa's promise. How can he do the honorable thing when it will cost him what he wants most in the world?
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Bill Wallace grew up in Oklahoma. Along with riding their horses, he and his friends enjoyed campouts and fishing trips. Toasting marshmallows, telling ghost stories to scare one another, and catching fish was always fun.
One of the most memorable trips took place on the far side of Lake Lawtonka, at the base of Mt. Scott. He and his best friend, Gary, spent the day shooting shad with bow and arrows, cutting bank poles, and getting ready to go when their dads got home from work.
Although there was no "monster" in Lake Lawtonka, one night there was a "sneak attack" by a rather large catfish tail. Checking the bank poles was not nearly as fun or "free" after that point, but it was the inspiration for this story.
Bill Wallace has won nineteen children's state awards and been awarded the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award for Children's Literature from the Oklahoma Center for the Book.
Grade 4-6 -Although this book is about honor, it often veers off that subject into trivia or handles it too heavy-handedly. It is far more interesting when it focuses on how 12-year-old Tom Nash and his grandfather, who is recuperating from heart surgery, train hunting dogs. And its main conflict doesn't arise until halfway through. The story begins with Tom writing lists of spelling words at the end of the school year because he lied about having them ready to turn in earlier. He goes to soccer camp and helps his mother clean his grandfather's kennel and feed the dogs. He and his parents take a trip to Six Flags where they meet a couple whose daughter is around Tom's age. He makes an awkward attempt at conversation with Angie and they become friends. Finally, halfway through the book, Tom and Grandpa begin to teach the older dogs the finer points of hunting and training the puppies. Tom falls in love with a rare blue-eyed beagle pup that seems the best behaved and most attentive. The problem is that Grandpa has promised the owner of the sire the pick of the litter. Tom shares his worry in a letter to Angie but there is never any real mystery as to what he will do. Wallace uses a first-person narrative but feelings are often told rather than shown. Transitions can also be awkward. Dog books are perennially popular but consider this one only if stock is low and demand high. It's not really the pick of the litter.-Tina Zubak, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, PA
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