When Tony's mother is sent to jail, he is sent to stay with a great uncle he has never met in Sierra Nevada. It is a daunting moveTony's new world bears no semblance to his previous one. But slowly, against a remote and remarkable backdrop, the scars from Tony's troubled past begin to heal.
With his Tió and a search-and-rescue dog named Gabe by his side, he learns how to track wild animals, is welcomed to the Cowboy Church, and makes new friends at the Mountain School. Most importantly though, it is through Gabe that Tony discovers unconditional love for the first time, in Mountain Dog by Margarita Engle.
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2013
About the Author
Margarita Engle is a poet and novelist whose work has been published in many countries. Her books include The Surrender Tree, a Newbery Honor book and winner of the Jane Addams Children's Book Award, the Pura Belpré Award, the Américas Award, and the Claudia Lewis Poetry Award; The Poet Slave of Cuba, winner of the Pura Belpré Award and the Américas Award; and Hurricane Dancers, winner of the Pura Belpré Award.
Olga and Aleksey Ivanov immigrated to the United States from Russia in 2002. The husband and wife team received a classical art education in Moscow and have collaborated on over 80 children's books, including The Tall Book of Mother Goose and Charlotte's Web. They live and work together in an artist studio near Denver, Colorado.
Read an Excerpt
TONY THE BOY
NO NO NO MAYBE
In my other life there were pit bulls.
The puppies weren’t born vicious,
but Mom taught them how to bite,
turning meanness into money,
until she got caught.
Now I don’t know where I’ll live,
or what sort of foster family
I’ll have to face each morning.
I dread the thought of a new school,
new friends, no friends, no hope.…
No! No no no no no.
But the social-worker lady doesn’t listen
to NO. She’s like a curious puppy, running,
exploring, refusing to accept collars and fences.
She keeps promising to find a relative who will
give me a place where I can belong.
I don’t believe her.
There aren’t any relatives—
not any that I’ve ever met.
I know I’m right, but family court
makes me feel dumb, with judges
wrapped up in rules.
It’s a world made for grown-ups,
not unlucky kids.
Even the angriest pit bulls
are friendlier than my future.
Everyone talks about dog years,
but all I can see now is minutes.
Each impossibly long dog minute
with the frowning judge
and cheerful social worker
feels like it could go on and on
Mom’s cruelty to animals
was her fault, not mine, but now
I’m the one suffering, as if her crimes
are being blamed on me.
When the social worker keeps smiling,
I find it hard to believe she’s actually found
a relative, a great-uncle, Tío Leonilo.
What a stupid name!
Maybe I can call him Leo the Lion,
or just tío, just uncle, as if I actually
know my mother’s first language,
the Spanish she left behind
when she floated away
from her native island
with me in her mean belly.
The social worker promises me
that although Tío is old—nearly fifty—
He lives on a mountain, rescues lost hikers,
guides nature walks, and takes care
of trees. He’s a forest ranger.
She might as well say he’s a magician
or a genie who lives in a bottle.
I’ve spent all my life in the city.
All I know is Los Angeles noise, smog,
buses, traffic, and the gangs, and my mom,
the dogs, fangs, blood, claws.
Nothing makes sense.
Why would a cool uncle want to share
his long-lost relative’s kid-trouble?
This can’t be real.
Real life should feel real,
but this feels all weird and scary,
like a movie with zombies or aliens.
When a man in a forest green uniform
walks into the courtroom, he hugs me
and calls me Tonio, even though Mom
never called me anything but Tony
or Hey You or Toe Knee.…
Out in the hall, Tío shows me a photo
of a dog, a chocolate Lab—goofy grin,
silly drool—not a fighting dog,
just a friendly dog, eager, a pal.
Tío walks me out of that crazy
scary courthouse, into a parking lot
where the happy dog is waiting
in a forest green truck.
I have to meet Gabe’s welcoming
doggie eyes and sniffy nose,
even though I’m not ready to meet
nice dogs, cool uncles, or anyone else.
Well, maybe just one sniff is okay.
When I pat Gabe on his soft, furry head,
he gives my hand a few trusting,
copyright © 2013 by Margarita Engle
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The book is confusing phsical copys format is weird and i lost interedt immediatly dont buy not worth it
The book “Mountain Dog” was written by Margarita Engle in 2013. “The characters in the book “Mountain Dog,” are imaginary but the story was inspired by a real boy and real dogs.”-Margarita Engle. This book is an outstanding read as it’s told through the perspective of Gabe, the chocolate lab and Tony, the 11 year old boy who needs rescued. This book takes place in Sierra, Nevada where Tony lives with his great uncle after his mom goes to jail. This move allows Tony’s past begin to heal. Mountain Dog is a book that teaches us about family, teamwork, trust, and educates us about rescue dogs and their jobs. The book “Mountain Dog,” is a very inspirational book. It changes the way you feel about your life. I makes you feel grateful about what God has gave you because people out there in the world may not have anything. The book “Mountain Dog,” is a very fitful book. It puts you in the perspective of a very confused, emotional boy named Tony, who wants to better himself and get the life he never imagine happening. The book also puts a chocolate lab as a perspective too named Gabe. Gabe is a very soft hearted dog who feels feelings of people but can’t understand why. He grows on to relationships with people and hopes and wants for the best. From the author creating the book that way, it is very fitful for the plot of the story. I feel like Margarita Engle did a good job on the emotional part on making readers feel like they are feeling what both Tony and Gabe are feeling. Tony is 11 years old when his whole life changes. Tony’s mom goes to jail for running pitbull fights, and he is forced to move to Sierra, Nevada with his great uncle Tio. Tio is a forest ranger who helps train rescue dogs. Gabe is a chocolate lab whom is one of the rescue dogs. Tony feels that he is trapped in the way he revolves around life with his mom in Los Angeles, California. He doesn’t know if the grass will be greener on the other side with Tio in the Sierra, Nevada. When he is with Tio, Tony bonds with Gabe and learns the skills he needs to survive in his new environment. With those skills he opens himself up to a life and a future, he never could have imagined. The author was successful in creating the characters of this novel because she had put in the perspective of Gabe the chocolate lab. I feel like that is creative. The most significant scene of the novel was chapter 37 because Tony got to get his own search and rescue puppy that is brave, focused, curious, wolf-eyed splash of sun-yellow fur, named Luz. In my opinion I thought that was a real significant moment in the book which helped/made Tony feel like he is following his great uncle Tio’s footsteps. Any changes I would make the novel better would be that I would not make the beginning DRAG on. I would have made it more suspenseful instead of just about his feelings. Maybe put Tony in the moment of sadness, pain, and suffering for hoping there is a better life for him out their. The author, to be honest, wasn’t able to hold me as a reader’s interest at the beginning but then as it went on I enjoyed the book more than I thought I would. I agree with the author because just by the way she had the book. The only thing I disagree with is the beginning. It DRAGS on but otherwise it is worth reading. My overall general opinion is that everyone always deserves a better life when needed. The grass can be greener on the other side if you put yourself to it with positivity. Page 5 chap
Well love dogs and i saw this book in my school libaray and i wanted it but someone took it out so now i really want this book
I havent read the book but I am in reading bowl so all the other reading bowl members say its good.