Rating: 5 stars (It’s got a Great Pyrenees in it, that’s worth 5 stars!)
“White Fur Flying” by Patricia MacLachlan is really an ode to those passionate people who rescue dogs. It’s a small book — almost an expanded short story — but a lot happens in that story, and there’s a lot of information to discuss.
The first person narrator is Zoe. Her family rescues dogs, usually Great Pyrenees, who are in danger of being killed. Zoe explains how her mother got their next fosters, Callie and Jack:
“Mama looked tired. I knew that rescuing dogs was hard work. She had driven across the state and back to pick up the dogs from another driver, who had picked up the dogs from another state. The rescue association didn’t always have much money, so drivers from every state volunteered. Callie and Jack had come all the way from Georgia.”
That’s called “transport,” and that’s exactly how dogs get from shelters (where the “unadoptable” ones are killed) to places where rescues take them in, hoping to find the unwanted dogs families that will prove to be “forever homes.”
It’s a story about how dogs can transform lives. In this story, one of the foster dogs from Georgia, Jack, transforms the life of Phillip, the boy who moves in next door. His family is in turmoil and Phillip has stopped talking. But as dogs do, Jack is able to find a way into the heart of even this very troubled child.
And the huge, fluffy white dog, whose fur leaves a fine coating of white on everyone and everything, is the catalyst for Phillip’s virtual rebirth. It’s just a wonderfully told tale.
This book is a wonderful read for second through fourth graders. It’s also a great book for a classroom teacher to use as a read aloud. And it’s filled with eminently discussable themes, like divorce, the plight of homeless animals, community service, and personal responsibility.
It would also be an excellent choice to read before doing a class service project. Perhaps collecting towels for a local shelter? Maybe dedicating a bulletin board in school for a “Dog of the Week,” with the students writing about the dog and including a picture.
Another classroom idea is for the students to research the history of the breed, Great Pyrenees, and to study how the breed’s innate talents have been utilized. Students could also research rescue groups and find the ones which are closest to their own neighborhoods.
Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, Margaret K. McElderry Books, for review purposes.