Rating: 5 stars
“Dog Sense” by Sneed B. Collard III is the story of a new kid in a rural Montana town. Moving during eighth grade of middle school is a tough time for any kid, but for a kid whose father disappeared after suffering from depression, it’s tough trying to live with a grandfather and to make friends.
Guy Martinez finds that Montana is really different from California. Kids call their teachers “ma’am” and “sir,” as he was told the first day of school by the principal. His grandfather is a crusty old coot, embarrassing as can be, but obviously someone who cares about Guy and his mother. His mother left her well-paying job to move to this new town called Coffee and take a minimum wage job.
Guy’s biggest problem (aside from missing his father and feeling somehow at fault) is that Brad Mullen, a delinquent who failed eighth grade twice, is gunning for him. Guy befriends the only friendly face, a guy named Luke with a mysterious past.
Although Luke is very willing (and eager) to spend time at Guy’s house, he never wants to bring Guy to his house. Once he meets Guy’s new dog, a border collie mix named Streak, the friendship is sealed. Luke loves dogs.
Again, it’s a mystery as to why Luke had two dogs but doesn’t any more. Cryptic comments about how Luke’s family “ruined the town” add to Guy’s wonder about his friend. It all becomes clear in the end, and Guy has some difficult decisions to make.
This would be a great story to read aloud to a fifth grade or middle school class. There are many issues that can be discussed including bullying, friendship, mental illness, divorce, cruelty to animals, and moral values.
It’s also an easy book to connect to as Guy’s personality is well created and one that cries out for understanding.
Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, Peachtree Publishers, for review purposes.