4.0 6
by Kirby Larson

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A poignant World War II story about a boy and his dog and his dad, and the many meanings of bravery, from Newbery Honor author Kirby Larson. Now in paperback!

With World War II raging and his father fighting overseas in Europe, eleven-year-old Hobie Hanson is determined to do his part to help his family and his country, even if it means giving up his beloved

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A poignant World War II story about a boy and his dog and his dad, and the many meanings of bravery, from Newbery Honor author Kirby Larson. Now in paperback!

With World War II raging and his father fighting overseas in Europe, eleven-year-old Hobie Hanson is determined to do his part to help his family and his country, even if it means giving up his beloved German shepherd, Duke. Hoping to help end the war and bring his dad home faster, Hobie decides to donate Duke to Dogs for Defense, an organization that urges Americans to "loan" their pets to the military to act as sentries, mine sniffers, and patrol dogs. Hobie immediately regrets his decision and tries everything he can to get Duke back, even jeopardizing his friendship with the new boy at school. But when his father is taken prisoner by the Germans, Hobie realizes he must let Duke go and reach deep within himself to be brave. Will Hobie ever see Duke, or his father, again? Will life ever be the same?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 09/23/2013
Life on the WWII home front is real and wrenching in this triumphant novel by Newbery Honor author Larson. Fifth-grader Hobie’s losses are deep: his father is off flying B-24s in Europe, his best friend has left their Seattle hometown, and—after considerable anguish—he lends Duke, his German shepherd, to the military’s Dogs for Defense program. Though distance separates Hobie and Duke, Larson reveals the bond between them as the ballast that keeps Hobie grounded and hopeful. Hobie answers letters from Duke’s Marine handler (which are written mostly in Duke’s voice) with misleading notes intended to secure his pet’s release from service—until he divulges a critical fact that enables Duke to save lives in battle. Despite its finely detailed historical setting, this incisive tale of loyalty, patriotism, sacrifice, and bravery transcends its era. Ages 8–12. (Sept.)
Kirkus Reviews
With World War II raging around the globe, Americans are called upon to sacrifice everything, even when it might break their hearts. When fifth-grader Hobie Hanson's father leaves his fishing boat in Seattle to pilot a B-24 in Europe, he tells Hobie "to step up and do what needs to be done." Whether it is buying war bonds, collecting rubber or simply making due with less, Hobie is giving all he can to the war effort. But when he begins to feel the pressure to lend his beloved German shepherd, Duke, to the Army, Hobie realizes he still has more to give. Authentic details, such as radio drama, ration stamps and the ever-present worry of a telegram bearing terrible news, enrich this story of a boy and his dog. References to the Japanese internment and anti-German prejudice bring the war even closer to home. However, Hobie is no perfect hero. He wrestles with his decisions, making mistakes along the way; a refusal to glamorize war sets this story apart. The universal anguish Hobie feels in his sacrifice will touch readers struggling to make sense of their own losses. Exceptionally well-crafted and emotionally authentic. (Historical fiction. 8-12)
From the Publisher

Praise for DUKE

"Exceptionally well-crafted and emotionally authentic." --KIRKUS REVIEWS, starred review
"[An] incisive tale of loyalty, patriotism, sacrifice, and bravery." --PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, starred review
"Larson weaves a wonderfully genuine attachment between boy and dog and thoughtfully examines Hobie's conflicted emotions as Duke gets partnered with a battle-bound Marine." --SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
"A good example of how bravery comes in all shapes, sizes -- and breeds."


"Larson deftly folds historical detail into Piper's lively diary entries, which describe her friendships, first romance, and school dramas as well as her view of the subsequent internment of Japanese Americans and the prejudice against sympathizers." --BOOKLIST
"Larson does an excellent job recreating the tension Piper feels. . . . [a] well-researched novel." --VOICE OF YOUTH ADVOCATES


A Newbery Honor Recipient

"[An] engaging historical novel . . . [Larson] creates a richly textured novel full of memorable characters." --BOOKLIST, starred review
"Larson . . . create[s] a masterful picture of the homesteading experience and the people who persevered." --SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, starred review

Children's Literature - Greg M. Romaneck
It is 1944. World War II has resulted in huge changes in every American's life. Fifth-grader Hobie Hanson is dealing with the usual childhood stuff—homework, friends, a bully named Mitch—but he also has to cope with wartime complications. Hobie's father is serving as a B-24 bomber pilot in Europe. Every day Hobie, his mother, and his little sister June pray that Mr. Hanson will make it home safely. Like other U.S. children, Hobie gathers scrap metal, paper, and rubber to support the war effort. Still, Hobie does not feel like he is doing enough to aid the war and his father. Hobie's only source of solace is his beloved pet dog, Duke. A steadfast friend, Duke is the one remaining true friend Hobie has in his corner. When Hobie hears about the Dogs for Defense program—children "loaning" their pets to the armed services for service in the war—Hobie wrestles with the idea. Finally, Hobie decides the personal sacrifice is worth it. It is a decision he regrets within days of Duke being taken away. Feeling a sadness he cannot explain, Hobie tries to get Duke back, only to discover that the dog is shipping out with his Marine Corps handler to points unknown in the Pacific. Will Hobie ever see Duke again? Will Hobie's father return unharmed? How can loving someone else make you feel so overwhelmingly helpless? These questions all are part and parcel of this, the most recent book by Newberry Honor-winning author Kirby Larson (Hattie Big Sky, 2007). Simply put, Duke is a wonderful book written from the heart. The story does justice to a time of great sacrifice for those young and old. Reviewer: Greg M. Romaneck
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—A handsome German shepherd dominates the patriotic cover of Larson's World War II home-front novel, but the book's action centers on the dog's absence. Hobie Hanson, an endearingly earnest 11-year-old, loves his father, who is stationed overseas in the Army Air Corps, and his crackerjack dog named Duke. Determined to aid the war effort (and by extension his dad) any way he can, Hobie loans Duke to Dogs for Defense, a real-life organization that trained pets for the military. Larson weaves a wonderfully genuine attachment between boy and dog and thoughtfully examines Hobie's conflicted emotions as Duke gets partnered with a battle-bound Marine; fearful, proud, and lonely, among other muddled feelings, the boy guiltily schemes to bring his pet home. The author peppers the novel with charming period and regional details-who knew about Wheato-Naks cereal or the Seattle fishing fleet's annual blessing ceremony?-and maintains a fairly sunny tone despite the premise's potential for tragedy. Smaller-scale tensions fail to engage, such as bullying by a meanie and manufactured quarrels between Hobie and his new friend, Max Klein. Both side plots could likely be resolved with a swift talking to from the mindful, swaggering, baseball-captaining Catherine, who is clearly the character with the best head on her shoulders. Larson's tale succeeds best as a study of the home-front experience and a poignantly dogless tale for dog lovers.—Robbin E. Friedman, Chappaqua Library, NY

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Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)
540L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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Duke 4 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 6 reviews.
MI_Reader More than 1 year ago
Duke is an historical fiction, taking place in Seattle, Washington during World War II. Much of the book is based on actual fact, so it is entertaining as well as educational. Why kids will love it - Kids will relate right away to Hobie. He's a normal, every day kid who just happens to live during a traumatic time in our country's history. Not only is his dad fighting overseas, but he is talked into donating his beloved dog and sending him to fight as well. Larson does a great job showing all the emotions and issues Hobie is dealing with - sadness with his dad gone and then captured, regret over donating Duke, a bully at school that won't go away and how to be brave and support your country with all this going on in the background. I didn't know about the Dogs for Defense program (which was real) and kids can find out about this important part of the war effort.  What I learned as a writer - In the back matter, Larson explained why she picked to write about the Dogs for Defense aspect of the war. She hadn't found any books for kids showcasing this fact of the war and saw a need.  I've heard this so many times at writing conferences - think of subject and what aspect hasn't be written about yet.  There's your marketable idea!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
" So far this book is amazing!"" If anybody gives this book less than 5 stars then they most be blind!" " I don't mean to spoil the book if i do." "But Duke would be the best dog in the universe.""Trust me. You dog lovers will read past page 2 (8) you would never put this book down."" I hope you injoy this book. Don't forget to put the book down!"" (Lol)."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is like OMG awsome souce!!!!!!!100% awsome like toats.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ACS_Book_Blogger More than 1 year ago
The book, Duke, is about a little boy, his dog, and his dad. His dad was leaving to go fight in WWII. He encouraged his son to be brave and get ready for anything. Hobie wanted to help do whatever he could to make the war end as quick as it could. So he decided to give his dog to "Dogs for Defense." He regretted donating him until he learned his father had been taken prisoner by the Germans. Hobie realized he had to be brave. (student review) DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy of Duke was given to us in exchange for our honest review. Opinions are the reviewers. No compensation was received for this review.