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Children's LiteratureAs fifth grade draws to a close, Tom has to pay the price for blowing off spelling during the last few weeks of school and for lying to his teacher about doing his final spelling homework. But his teacher, knowing that Tom's grandfather has been sick, gives him a final chance to redeem himself by having him stay after school to write all his words. When she cannot find the work that he says he completed, she doubts him—until the janitor finds the papers. As soon as school is out, Tom heads over to his grandfather's house to help train his hunting dogs. And as summer progresses, he finds puppy love in two places—at the amusement park on the trip he takes with his parents and with one of Grandpa's puppies who he names Tad. He writes to Angie, his new girlfriend, to work through his dilemma when he learns that Grandpa has promised the pick of Tad's litter to the owner of the dog that fathered him. His teacher's words about honor echo with him and he offers Tad up as the pick of the litter. Fortunately, the owner wants a female and Tad goes home with Tom. This light, pleasant read has a nice message, although it is somewhat disjointed and feels like two stories at times. Although the protagonist is a boy, this story may appeal more to girls, particularly as the insightful, sensitive voice of the main character sounds more feminine than masculine. 2005, Holiday House, Ages 8 to 12.
—Moira Rose Donohue