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Charley knows a lot about pain. She endures it when she walks on her newly shattered leg, she sees it when her father buries himself in an eighty-hour work week, and she runs from it when she sees photographs her mother took before her death. Then one day, Charley meets a wild, abused dog that knows as much about pain as she does, and, despite herself, she feels an immediate connection and vows to help him. But how will one heartbroken girl help mend the battered spirit of an ...

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Charley knows a lot about pain. She endures it when she walks on her newly shattered leg, she sees it when her father buries himself in an eighty-hour work week, and she runs from it when she sees photographs her mother took before her death. Then one day, Charley meets a wild, abused dog that knows as much about pain as she does, and, despite herself, she feels an immediate connection and vows to help him. But how will one heartbroken girl help mend the battered spirit of an untamable dog?

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Mary Jo Edwards
Three months after breaking her leg in a car accident, twelve-year-old Charley goes for a walk around a nearby lake. Along the way she sees a frightened stray dog. Their eyes meet and Charley feels something special pass between them. That same day Charley gets her workaholic father's permission to tame the wild spirit that she names Coyote. During the taming process, Charley's repressed emotions are released when they walk the same woods trails that her late mother used to photograph. She hears her mother's voice telling her to listen to nature. At last Charley is able to enter her mother's photography studio and study her work. Coyote's friendship helps Charley cherish her mother's memory, appreciate each day, and eagerly anticipate the future. This well-written novel will hold the reader's interest from start to finish. Charley's character demonstrates how to deal successfully with her emotional and physical pain--her mother's death two years earlier, her father's eighty-hour work week, a car accident, and her best friend's desertion to summer camp. Charley's feelings of rejection and isolation shift to exhilaration when she meets Coyote. The author's portrayal of their mutually healing friendship is heartwarming. Tolan's picture perfect imagery will have readers feeling like they are right there with Charley and Coyote.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-Charley's mother died just a short time ago, and, still raw with grief, the 12-year-old is faced with a miserable summer recuperating from a car accident that has left her with a slowly healing leg. Her best friend is spending the summer at tennis camp, and her father has buried himself in work because of his own pain. Her "physical terrorist" insists that she starts walking so she decides to make her way around a nearby lake. The woods hold too many memories of her mother and her nature photography so she's avoided that area up till now. On her first day out, she encounters a stray dog. She names him Coyote and sets out to see if she can tame him. The girl and the dog have an almost psychic connection; Charley can feel the trauma Coyote has been through even as he helps her to heal physically as well as emotionally. Even Charley's dad opens up. This is a sweet, gentle story of healing and the strong bond that can develop between humans and animals. The lovely imagery and involving plot should appeal to more than just animal lovers.-Diana Pierce, Running Brushy Middle School, Cedar Park, TX Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In the hands of a less-talented author, the story of a half-wild dog and the heartbroken girl who tames him might have descended into saccharine sentimentality. Luckily, Tolan's tale, although somewhat predictable, is well-written and engaging. Charlene, known as Charley, is a sixth-grader recovering from the effects of a recent car accident and still unable to accept the death of her mother two years earlier. Cared for by her distant, workaholic father and a housekeeper, Charley resents the changes in her life and initially resists her father's attempts to encourage her to spend more time outdoors. When she sees a strange dog, however, her interest is piqued and she begins to exercise regularly in her efforts to get close to him. Tolan's decision to use the present tense adds suspense and immediacy. The long, drawn-out process of taming the dog, which Charley names Coyote, is clearly described and will likely enthrall dog lovers. Charley's emotional recovery is handled more delicately, allowing readers to discern thematic parallels without feeling manipulated. Touching and heartwarming. (Fiction. 11-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060579357
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/11/2006
  • Pages: 208
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 910L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephanie S. Tolan is the author of more than twenty-five books for young readers, including Listen!, which won the Christopher Award and the Henry Bergh ASPCA Award. Her New York Times bestselling novel Surviving the Applewhites received a Newbery Honor and was named a Smithsonian Magazine Notable Book for Children, a School Library Journal Best Book, an ALA Booklist Editors' Choice, an American Library Association Notable Children's Book, and an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults. Tolan lives on a little lake in a big woods in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband (Bob), two dogs (Coyote—the real dog from Listen!—and Samantha), one cat (Puck), and plenty of outdoor creatures.

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Read an Excerpt


By Stephanie Tolan

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Stephanie Tolan
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060579358

Chapter One


Charley is halfway across the dam, sweat dripping down her back under her T-shirt, when her father drives past her on his way back to work. She doesn't look at him. As slowly as he is driving, the car still kicks up gray-white dust from the gravel road. She walks through the dust, as straight and tall as she can make herself, jamming her walking stick into the stones as she goes, trying not to limp. She is walking. It is what he wants, and she is doing it. But if he's so interested in the best thing for her, why can't he let her decide what that is?

"I won't have you sitting in that chair all summer!" he yelled when she refused to come sit with him and eat the lunch Sarita had to scramble to fix when he showed up suddenly, unexpectedly, in the middle of the workday.

"Summer hasn't even started yet," she yelled back.

"It's the last day of school -- for kids who are in school," he said.

You'd think it was her fault that she isn't in school, finishing the sixth grade with everybody else!

"You only have ten weeks to build up your strength and be ready when school starts again. You are to get outside today. It's time, Charlene! Your physical therapist says you're healing well and a little exercise is all you need to get back tonormal. You will start by walking. Today. Is that clear?" He was using his I-am-the-boss voice that keeps a factory full of workers in line.

She lowered the footrest of the recliner chair, picked up her walking stick from the floor, and got to her feet as gracefully as she could. Without a word she went down the hall to her room and put on her sneakers. Then, pounding the stick on the floor as she went, she walked straight through the living room and the dining room, out the sliding glass door, and down the ramp he had had built over the stairs her second week in the hospital.

Her father was at the breakfast table in the lake room when she left, waving his fork in the air as he talked into his cell phone. He might have taken time to come home for lunch, but he hadn't really left his work, Charley thinks as his car moves up the hill on the other side of the dam and disappears around the curve. It's what her father does -- work. Normal for him means his eighty-hour workweek.

By the time the dust from his car settles, Charley has reached the end of the dam, where there is a bench under a willow tree by the water. She could sit there in the shade awhile, looking at Eagle Lake, its ripples glittering in the sun. She could rest her leg and then go home again. But she keeps walking, up the slope of the road.

She can walk all right. She is done with the wheelchair. Done with crutches. The "miracle" of the rod the doctors stuck into the bone in her right leg from her hip to her knee means she has never had to wear a cast. By now all there is to show for what happened to her is

the scar down her leg where they put the rod in. And the walking stick she made so she wouldn't have to use the stupid old-lady-looking cane Tony, her physical terrorist, tried to give her after the crutches.

Her father wants her back to normal. Normal. What is that? Is that what her life was the first week in March? Before her friend Amy's brother Travis gave them a ride home from school that rainy Monday afternoon? Before he got to showing off and playing NASCAR driver? Before what the papers called a "one-car accident" that was really one car and one tree? She can't remember the accident that put her in the hospital and ended the school year for her. She can't even remember the first few days after it. The doctors say, because of the concussion, she probably never will.

If there is one thing she's learned for sure in her twelve years of life, it is that you can't go back to the way things used to be. No matter how much you want to. You can't go back. Somehow or other, you have to keep going forward. It's just that she hasn't figured out yet how to do that.

Whether she spends the whole summer in the recliner chair or out here walking the hot, dusty road around Eagle Lake, it can't be like the last two summers. This summer can't be Charley and Amy at Amy's house swimming in Amy's pool, playing tennis, going to movies, hanging out at the mall, spending whole days at a time at Carrowinds amusement park with Amy's family. Because this summer Travis is working to pay his father back for the car he wrecked. And Amy . . . Amy . . .

Charley stabs her walking stick into the gravel, and a little puff of dust rises into the air.

She has reached the split where the gravel road that is Eagle Lake Drive goes straight ahead, past the caretaker's house and out to the paved county road, and also right, through the woods toward the south side of the lake. She turns right and keeps walking. Where the road splits again -- right to the four houses closest to the dam and left to the rest of the houses on the south side of the lake -- she goes left. Trees nearly meet over her head -- thick woods on one side, woods with houses on the other.

She goes on stabbing her walking stick into the gravel, goes on making the little puffs of dust. Amy, her best friend since second grade, is going off to spend the whole summer at Lake George in upstate New York with Becky Sue Lindner. . . .


Excerpted from Listen! by Stephanie Tolan Copyright © 2006 by Stephanie Tolan. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2006

    not at ALL predictable!

    This is a riveting book. Charley is a girl who is damaged in body and spirit, in ways she doesn't even recognize, and the feral dog she names Coyote is very like her. I never felt the outcome was assured or guaranteed there aren't any easy answers for Charley, her family, or for Coyote, and I don't want there to be any! It's far more interesting to see if Charley can build up trust between herself and the dog, if her psychic link with him is real, if she can keep the outside world from putting demands on her and Coyote that will break the growing ties between them, and if she can find healing for herself after her mother's loss, after her own accident, and after her friend's apparent betrayal. I love Charley's expanding her world to include the natural world around her and the inner world of the woman who looks after her, as well as that of her dad. This is just one of those books that makes you feel better for reading it, because the characters' battles are all hard fought, and you feel like they're *your* battles, too.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2009

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