That'll Do, Moss

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Overview

Border Collies are born to work, and Moss is no exception. But now, recovered from the coyote attack that almost killed him, he has a new home and owners who have no time for him. Twelve-year-old Diane, who baby-sits for the family, longs to connect with the dejected dog and coax him to work again. Then both Moss and Diane get swept up in the rising threat of rabies in the area, and misconceptions and fear seem to rule the day. Can a novice handler and a battle-scarred dog bring out the best in each other as they...
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Overview

Border Collies are born to work, and Moss is no exception. But now, recovered from the coyote attack that almost killed him, he has a new home and owners who have no time for him. Twelve-year-old Diane, who baby-sits for the family, longs to connect with the dejected dog and coax him to work again. Then both Moss and Diane get swept up in the rising threat of rabies in the area, and misconceptions and fear seem to rule the day. Can a novice handler and a battle-scarred dog bring out the best in each other as they face a trial harder than any shepherding competition? A girl, her entrancing, gifted dog, and nonstop action make this required reading for animal lovers.
About the Author:Betty Levin has written two previous books about Moss: Away to Me, Moss, and Look Back, Moss. She lives in Lincoln, MA.

During the summer that Diane lives with a family as their babysitter, she works to establish rapport with the border collie Moss as everyone tries to cope with several crises.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Moss, the Border collie, no longer runs sheep. He spends his days lying around his owner's garden center. Diane, hired to babysit the Prager's two young boys, believes Moss wants to do what he was bred and trained to do—run sheep. Her best friend trained and trialed the collie, but then Zanna moved away. Now Moss lives with the Pragers, who are busy with their business and have little time for sheep herding. Diane volunteers to work with the dog to help fill the void she is feeling. Her mother is pregnant with her boyfriend's child and Diane feels like an outsider around them. She misses Zanna, who has become distant. She and Moss need each other, though their training is somewhat rocky. When Diane witnesses a rabid skunk hit by a car, she is unaware of the implications. The sight of a pregnant cat being thrown from the same car shocks her, but doesn't register until later when farm animals become sick. Moss and Diane rise to the challenge of the rabies epidemic. Diane learns as much from the dog as he learns from her. This is the third title about Moss and should stand on its own. Some readers may feel they have walked into the middle of a play without a program. The book also suffers from a large, confusing cast. Except for Moss, even the dogs have people names. The sheep herding information is interesting. Dog lovers will enjoy the newest offering from Levin. 2002, Greenwillow,
— Candice Ransom
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-Border collie Moss returns in his third book, which does not stand alone. Diane is baby-sitting for the summer for the Pragers, who have taken the dog in. When rabies is found in the area, they must kill their lambs, which might have been exposed. Upset, one of their sons runs away. When Diane and Moss locate him, they see that he is injured, and she goes for help. In the meantime, one of the neighbors finds him and severely hurts the dog because he defends the boy so aggressively. While the human characters and dialogue are realistic, Moss never comes to life. The fact that the searcher slams and nearly kills him with a pipe seems gratuitous and shocking. The incident appears to exist only so that Diane can then take responsibility for Moss, thus making him "her dog." If readers of the earlier titles can stand seeing him hurt again so that another child can learn to trust herself, they will read this one. Others can pass on it.-Sally Bates Goodroe, formerly at Harris County Public Library, Houston, TX
Kirkus Reviews
For animal lovers or shepherds, this third in Levin's dog series (Look Back Moss, 1998; Away to Me Moss, 1994) continues her slice-of-life-on-the-farm saga. This latest tale of the woes of Moss the Border collie doesn't stint on realism as he continues with his talented but erratic sheepherding under the tutelage of 12-year-old Diane, Zanna's best friend. Diane has come to spend the summer as a live-in babysitter for Moss's caretakers, and tries, but consistently fails, to learn how to guide Moss in his sheepdog trials. When rabies strikes the farm and two lambs must be slaughtered, four-year-old Tim tries to save his puppy from the same fate by running away. As the entire neighborhood searches for him, Moss finds the boy, but an over-eager searcher nearly kills Moss with a pipe. Diane must decide if she should put the beloved dog down, as the vet suggests, or try to save him. Despite these hand-wringing dilemmas, Levin saves the action until the last few short chapters, laying the groundwork slowly. Much of Diane's troubles involve babysitting small boys, another theme that will ring bells for juvenile girls. The leisurely pace notwithstanding, dog lovers and fans of the series will find much to enjoy here. (Fiction. 8-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060005313
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/1/2002
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 128
  • Age range: 8 - 11 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.22 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One



Later, much later, Diane would think back to that Friday afternoon in May and imagine how things might have turned out if only she had noticed more. No, not noticed but paid serious attention to what she saw.

That day she was the last off the bus and the only one to turn onto the steep side road that led to the Ragged Mountain Garden Center. Once again she would be spending the weekend with the Prager family to help look after the two boys. Could she find a little time for herself, too? Homework wasn't the only thing on her mind.

Trudging uphill, her head a tangle of thoughts, she found herself walking straight into a major mess. What stopped her cold was the stink, unmistakable even from a distance.

The moment she caught sight of the skunk ahead of her she could tell that something was really weird about it. She might have turned back if she hadn't already heard the school bus roar off along the main road.

With nowhere else to go, she jumped into the roadside ditch and waited for the skunk to leave. Even though she had extra clothes in her backpack for the weekend, she wasn't taking any chances. It was common knowledge that if you ever got a direct hit from a skunk, everything you were wearing and carrying would have to be thrown out or burned. So she kept her eye on the skunk while she clambered onto the high ground on the far side of the ditch.

But the skunk was in no hurry to move on. It waddled aimlessly, then suddenly rushed at a shadow, snapping at something Diane couldn't see. It twirled as if possessed by demons.After that it staggered dizzily, and then it halted, its mouth agape.

Diane took note of its sharp little teeth. An image from several years before flickered through her thoughts, a picture of a rabid raccoon that had been displayed in school to warn everyone of the danger. But the rabies scare had died down, and no one talked about it anymore. Besides, this was just a skunk playing some kind of game. Maybe it was pretending to be ferocious. The thing to worry about wasn't its bite but its spray.

Jace came biking up the hill.

“Watch out!” she called to him. “There's a skunk up ahead.”

“You're afraid of a skunk?” He sounded almost gleeful.

She shrugged. Ever since the day they had walked up the road together and he had warned her about the Pederson ghost, he kept trying to prove to her that he was tough. She hadn't even known that there was a house at the end of what she supposed was an abandoned path until Jace had moved to the middle of the road to give the overgrown driveway a wide berth. “Everyone knows,” he had informed her. “That man, that Axel Pederson, he never left the place. It's where he died. His ghost won't leave either. That's why no one lives there.”

Diane had assumed he was kidding. How could a guy like Jace, who was old enough to earn a regular salary at the garden center, actually believe such garbage? When she made the mistake of speaking her mind, Jace's face had set in sullen resentment. Since then he had biked to work. And when he couldn't avoid her at the garden center, he would find some way to remind her that even if they did ride the same bus on Fridays, high school was a world apart from middle school, and she was nothing more than a glorified baby-sitter.

“The thing is,” Jace declared as he came abreast of her, “if you're quick enough, a skunk can't back up and aim at you.” He hunched his lanky body over the handlebars and pedaled past her.

But farther along he slowed. Then he headed toward the skunk, egging it on. Diane figured he was showing off for her benefit. When the squat black-and-white animal really did dash at him, he hooted with mock alarm and fled. The little beast charged the bike's rear wheel, but Jace was clear of it. All he had to do was turn off the road into the garden center.

Diane scowled as she tried to rearrange the image of a skunk attacking a bike. Or did it just look like an attack? Maybe the skunk was injured. Being in pain could make it act crazy. She stifled an impulse to go in for a closer look.

Barely in time, too. A car, speeding down the road, seemed to appear from nowhere. Just when it was about to pass the entrance to the garden center, it suddenly braked, and something was tossed out the front window on the passenger side. An animal? A live animal? Yes, a cat. As it skittered toward the woods, Diane caught a clear glimpse of it. A cat, low-slung with a swollen middle. Was it going to have kittens? Was that why it had been dumped?

The car lurched forward, then had to swerve to avoid the skunk. But the frantic little beast ran full tilt at it, jaws snapping at a front tire. Somehow the driver managed to steer around it. Still, the skunk had no fear. Once again it hurled itself at the car. Diane heard an awful thump as a rear wheel hit. The car kept going, picking up speed as it passed Diane and headed downhill.

She waited a moment longer, peering at the black-and-white mound of fur. What if the skunk wasn't dead, only maimed? What if it was suffering? What if it blamed the next thing it saw, which would be her?

Keeping to her side of the road, holding her breath against the skunk smell, she drew closer. It took only one quick glance...

That'll Do, Moss. Copyright © by Betty Levin. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2002

    Love That Moss!

    You will love this book if you can't resist a great dog story. There is Moss, of course, who comes across as a wonderful 'almost human' canine who is eager to please, and the added intrigue of a haunted house and the mystery surrounding it. At age twelve Diane seemed a little young for the role of summer babysitter with full responsibility for two young boys while their parents manage a Garden Center store, and yet her character credibly rises to the occasion. I could have believed she was fourteen or fifteen, but then, would a teenager have devoted her whole summer to those boys and puppies? For more about sheep dog field trials than you'll find in this book, try the other Moss stories.

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