The Field of the Dogs

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In short, fast-paced chapters with cliff-hanger endings, this is the story of Josh, who has recently moved to Vermont and must face a new life that includes not only a new stepfather, a new baby brother, and a new school, but also a menacing bully. Then Josh stumbles upon a secret. Following his dog, Manch, out to a field near the woods one day, Josh overhears Manch and his other dog friends talking! Not only that, Josh discovers that Manch and his friends are also faced with a bully—a pack of bullies, in fact, ...
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McCully, Emily Arnold 2001 Hard cover This is library binding-Absolutely brand new(gift quality)! ! -ships immediately Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. With dust jacket. 96 p. ... Contains: Illustrations. Audience: Children/juvenile. Read more Show Less

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McCully, Emily Arnold 2001 Hard cover First edition. Illustrated. Full number line. New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. With dust jacket. 96 p. Contains: ... Illustrations. Audience: Children/juvenile. Read more Show Less

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Overview

In short, fast-paced chapters with cliff-hanger endings, this is the story of Josh, who has recently moved to Vermont and must face a new life that includes not only a new stepfather, a new baby brother, and a new school, but also a menacing bully. Then Josh stumbles upon a secret. Following his dog, Manch, out to a field near the woods one day, Josh overhears Manch and his other dog friends talking! Not only that, Josh discovers that Manch and his friends are also faced with a bully—a pack of bullies, in fact, who are threatening a fight. The dogs don't want Josh's help, but still Josh thinks he can solve their problems and his own with one simple solution. The only hitch to his plan: It's dangerous.

Taut and suspenseful, Katherine Paterson's exciting chapters, together with Emily Arnold McCully's pen-and-ink drawings, debuted in more than 100 newspapers across the country as part of the Breakfast Serials program and are now published for the first time as a book.

About the Authors:
Katherine Paterson, recently named a "Living Legend" by the Library of Congress, is the author of the Newbery Medal-winning books Bridge to Terabithia and Jacob Have I Loved, the Newbery Honor book and National Book Award winner The Great Gilly Hopkins, and many other highly acclaimed books. She lives in Barre, VT.

Emily Arnold McCully is the illustrator of many popular books for children as well as the author-illustrator of favorite books such as Mirette on the High Wire, which was awarded the Caldecott Medal. She lives in New York City.

Josh, who has just moved to Vermont with his mother, stepfather, and new baby brother, must deal with the bullying of a neighbor boy and discovers that his dog, whom he hears talking with other dogs, is also facing a bully of his own.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Originally published chapter by chapter in newspapers as part of the "Breakfast Serials" program, this disappointing story juggles an uneasy mix of realism and fantasy. Narrator Josh has just moved from Virginia to Vermont with his mother, her new husband and their infant son. During a snow day (forcing his school closing), Josh searches for his dog, Manch, and finds the pooch in a field playing--and laughing--with three canine pals (Manch tells the alpha dog, Ace, that they'll have to set some ground rules for play, and Ace responds, "Well, it's always three to one. Twelve legs to four"). Josh then listens as they talk in human speech about the River Gang, a rival group of larger dogs headed up by a fierce weimaraner. Manch never speaks in human words to Josh again until Ace is badly hurt, hit by a snowplow while fighting with one of the enemy dogs. In a parallel plot, Josh copes with Wes, a bullying classmate and neighbor, whose help he eventually seeks out after making a futile attempt to shoot the weimaraner with his stepfather's rifle as the two dog packs fight. Paterson's (The Smallest Cow in the World) potentially intriguing premise of talking dogs isn't fully integrated into the tale, so it ends up calling attention to itself rather than moving the story forward. Though minimal and sometimes murky, McCully's (Mirette on the High Wire) black-and-white line art may well encourage reluctant readers, as will the book's brief chapters and the text's relatively large type size. Ages 8-12. (Mar.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
The highly respected Newbery Award-winning author takes on such contemporary issues as blended families, bullies and children's easy access to guns. Seen through the eyes of Josh, who has recently moved to a new community, these problems assume an immediacy that propels them beyond the television screen to a world with which many children will identify. In a surprising plot twist, Josh discovers that he can understand dogs talking to each other. He learns that a dog's life is not all it is cracked up to be, as these dogs have life-threatening problems not unlike his own. The element of the talking dogs, however, seems dubious and unnecessary to the story. The book compiles one series of episodes written for the Breakfast Serials newspaper program. Perhaps this fact helps to explain the uneven development of plot and character. As a whole, this book does not measure up to the outstanding quality of the author's previous work. 2001, HarperCollins Children's Books, $14.95 and $14.89. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Stephanie Farrow
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-Originally published as part of the "Breakfast Serials" program in newspapers nationwide, this short chapter book combines elements of suspense and adventure with a touch of fantasy. Josh is having trouble adjusting to his move to Vermont and his life there with his mother, stepfather, and new baby brother. Add to that being the target of local bullies and it is easy to see why his only friend is his dog, Manch. One winter day, the boy is amazed to overhear his pet speaking to other dogs in a field near his home. Shortly thereafter, Manch and his canine friends become victimized by a pack of wild dogs and Josh attempts to help them by taking his stepfather's rifle, leading to a situation in which he is forced to ask one of the bullies for help. Their shared experience leaves readers hopeful that the bonds of friendship have been forged and that Josh's future will be happier. This fast-paced novel examines the cruelty of children toward an outsider and how difficult it can be for a newcomer to adjust to life in an isolated area. Josh's decision to take the rifle and his stepfather's response are handled realistically and will impact readers. A full- or half-page black-and-white line drawing, often of an outdoor scene, introduces each chapter.-Maura Bresnahan, Shawsheen School, Andover, MA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060294748
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/28/2001
  • Pages: 96
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 530L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Katherine Paterson was born in China, where she spent part of her childhood. After her education in China and the American South, she spent four years in Japan, the setting for her first three novels. Ms. Paterson has received numerous awards for her writing, including National Book Awards for The Master Puppeteer and The Great Gilly Hopkins, as well as Newbery Medals for Jacob Have I Loved and Bridge to Terabithia. Ms. Paterson lives with her husband in Vermont. They have four grown children.

Emily Arnold McCully has illustrated more than a hundred books for children, including her own First Snow and Arnold Adoff's Black Is Brown Is Tan. She won the Caldecott Medal for her book Mirette On the High Wire.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Josh

I wonder where he's going in all this snow, thought Josh as he pressed his nose against a small pane in the porch door and watched his dog bound up the road. Manch would take a great leap and land'and then, instead of sinking into the depths of the snow, the small brown body would bounce up again as graceful as a deer on the nature channel. Where could he be headed? Beyond that stupid Wes Rockett's house, there was nothing at the end of the road'some fields, a bit of woods. Josh had wandered up the road himself last week before the snow came. It seemed strange his mother hadn't stopped him. In Virginia she would hardly let him go to the mall with his buddies. But now with a new husband, a new baby, and an old farmhouse at the other end of nowhere, she didn't seem to care whether he lived or died.

“D'you let Manch out again?” His mother had come to the door with the baby on her left hip and a diaper in her right hand.

“He was asking to go out,” Josh said.

“In all this snow? Josh, that fool dog will get lost and freeze to death. I told you to walk him on the leash. He hasn't lived here long enough to find his way home.”

Josh sighed, got his jacket, and stuck the leash in the pocket. As he opened the porch door, his mother called from the bathroom. “Have you got your boots on?”

He went back for his boots. The boots were new. Greg, his stepfather, had bought them for him last Saturday'so he could be “a real Vermonter.” What a laugh. He yanked off his old sneakers and then pulled on the boots, huge rubber bottoms and leather tops that had to be laced up practically to his belly button. At this ratethe dog would be miles away before Josh even got off the porch.

“Don't stay out too long, now,” his mother called again. “If you can't find him right away, just come on home, hear?”

“Yeah.” Josh slammed the door and started down the porch steps, which wore six to eight inches of snow. Before dawn someone had plowed the dirt road that ran in front of the house, but there were already another four or five inches of snow on it. As he picked up one heavily booted foot and then the other, Josh remembered how Manch had bounded across the snow like a deer.

He passed the Rocketts' house as quickly as he could. No sign of Wes. That bully. At the bus stop on Josh's first day of school, Wes had grabbed him and stuffed snow down his jacket. So Josh started a new school cold and wet and furious. Wes was still laughing about his “snow job.”

Well, one good thing about snow. He could follow Manch's happy tracks with very little difficulty. Tracking. Josh's imagination shifted into gear. In his head he pictured the chief ranger speaking to him, Josh Wilkinson. “There's a rabid wolf out there somewhere, Wilkinson. We're counting on you to track it down.”

I should have brought the gun, thought Josh. I know how to handle it. A guy shouldn't just walk out alone into the wilds of Vermont unprotected. But the gun was locked in the gun cabinet, the shells someplace else entirely. “It's not a matter of trusting or not trusting,” his stepfather had said. “Just sensible safety precautions.”

Josh grabbed a dead branch. Carefully, he raised it to his shoulder and sighted along the slightly curved length. When I see him, Josh thought, I get him right between the eyes, no second chances in a situation like this. He was out of sight of the Rocketts' house now. The road dead-ended into another. The tracks of the “rabid wolf” had now become only part of a pattern of tracks. A pack of wolves? Josh said to himself. How many are rabid? His blood froze.

Would he have to shoot more than one? Would he have time? Courageously he pushed forward, following the tangled pattern of prints off the road through a small woods. He entered the line of trees cautiously. He might be a courageous forest ranger, but he was no man's fool.

Suddenly a sound broke into his daydream. What was it? Dogs, he thought. But how could dogs make that sound? It was like laughter--wild, not quite human laughter...

The Field of the Dogs. Copyright © by Katherine Paterson. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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