Dogland

Dogland

4.0 2
by Will Shetterly
     
 

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Set in Florida in the late 1950s, during the birth of the Civil Rights Movement, this is the story of a Yankee family who comes to Florida to open a tourist attraction known as Dogland. Against this backdrop Will Shetterly spins a tale like no other, a tale of childhood innocence and the struggle between hatred and tolerance, the battle between good and evil.

Overview

Set in Florida in the late 1950s, during the birth of the Civil Rights Movement, this is the story of a Yankee family who comes to Florida to open a tourist attraction known as Dogland. Against this backdrop Will Shetterly spins a tale like no other, a tale of childhood innocence and the struggle between hatred and tolerance, the battle between good and evil.

Editorial Reviews

bn.com
This tale of a family-owned canine zoo in Florida ripples well beyond expectations. The Nix family's attempt to make ends meet with a tourist-attracting Dogland meet with unexpected resistance. The critics aren't dog lovers; they're racists, protesting Luke Nix's color-blind hiring policies. From there, surprises proliferate. Even four-year-old Chris gets into the act in this subtle, endearing novel.
VOYA - Roxy Eckstrom
What is real? What is fantasy? When you view the world through the eyes of a four-year-old is there much difference? Time blurs the distinctions between the two as Christopher Nix tells his story, rich with memories both real and dreamed, of life from 1959 to the early '60s. Chris is four when his parents, Luke and Susan, move the family to central Florida. Luke's dream, a tourist attraction featuring all the dog breeds recognized by the AKC, is coming true in Dogland. But the Nix family is different from neighboring families. The Nixes are from Minnesota, where a man's pay depends on how hard he works, not the color of his skin. When Luke hires Ethorne Hawkins and pays him a white man's wages, the move does not sit well with some of the locals. Racial tensions of the time ebb and flow throughout the book, culminating in a KKK attack on Dogland and the Nixes, sharply delineating the contrast between their liberalism and the bigotry of the town. Shetterly paints a vivid portrait of a narrow piece of the rural south and the people who live there, while keeping Dogland true to a child's perspective. The turmoil of the time is set against everyday incidents such as learning to swim, manatees, feeding the dogs, and riding the school bus. The importance of racial incidents, sexual harassment, and suicides are colored by the egocentricity and naiveté of a child. The idyllic life Chris recalls at Dogland is full of symbolism, from the spring at the Fountain of Youth motel to the new sprout growing out of the ashes of the Heart Tree. I would recommend this modern fantasy for those high schoolers, who with maturity, can read behind the words and be transported back to cracker Florida. VOYA Codes: 4Q 2P S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, For the YA with a special interest in the subject, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Kirkus Reviews
Shetterly makes the transition from young adult (Elsewhere, 1991, etc.) to adult fantasy with assurance and aplomb. In 1959, Luke and Susan Nix travel with their family—four-year-old Chris, whose narrative is informed by hindsight; Little Bit, three; and Digger, two—to Dickison, Florida, to set up a tourist attraction: Dogland, a sort of canine zoo displaying dozens of different breeds of dog, along with a restaurant and gift shop. Their supportive neighbors include Maggie DeLyon, the Seminole owner of the Fountain of Youth motel, realtor Artie Drake, and the old black cook, Ethorne Hawkins, soon hired by Luke along with Ethorne's equally hardworking family, Mayella, James, and college boy Seth. Some locals resent Luke's color-blind approach, while others come to accept it. As the years pass, and new federal laws begin to bite, Luke writes to the local newspaper supporting integration and the banning of prayer in schools. Waitress Francine rejects her violent, bigoted husband, Cal, and runs off with James; attempting to stop them, Cal calls out the Klan, only to be outwitted by Luke and Ethorne. Dogland, meanwhile, receives a steady stream of visitors, many of whom may not be entirely what they seem. John Hawkins, a descendant of the original plantation owner, assisted by lawyer Nick Lumiere, opens a rival attraction, a pirate theme park, then tries to buy Luke out. Another neighbor, Gideon Shale, who serves hamburgers and Jesus, blows his brains out after Lumiere taunts him. Next, Maggie's Fountain of Youth succumbs to the Hawkins-Lumiere axis. Finally, when the Klan makes an all-out effort to run Luke off and defeat Ethorne, Chris calmly lets loose the dogs.

Compelling, absorbing, hard-edged work, lit by glimpses of another, more fantastic reality: reminiscent of top-notch Orson Scott Card, child-centered but tackling adult themes fearlessly and with great charm.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312851712
Publisher:
Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
Publication date:
05/28/1997
Pages:
448
Product dimensions:
5.85(w) x 8.55(h) x 1.33(d)

Meet the Author

Will Shetterly is the award-winning author of Elsewhere and other stories.

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