That'll Do, Mossby Betty Levin
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.
- HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.22(w) x 9.28(h) x 0.58(d)
- Age Range:
- 8 - 11 Years
Read an Excerpt
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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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.