In this holiday novel for middle graders, a dog's quest to save his master's daughter becomes a journey to save the world.
Season the dog's world upends when ash clouds the atmosphere and threatens the life of Melissa, his beloved owner's little girl. So, being the plucky pup he is, Season leaves his cozy home and braves the wild forest in an attempt to clear the skies, though he has no knowledge of how to do so. In other words, Pollard's debut starts out by rewriting the standard quest story, this time with a dog in the starring role. In the opening scene (before one of several flashback), readers land smack in the middle of a confrontation between Season and a snarling pack of wolves. In smooth prose interwoven with the right amount of explication, the story follows Season through the forest as he befriends a kind but underappreciated mule, then faces danger, trickery and death. Explaining the meaning of his quest, Season says: "It is my purpose. Have you never felt like that? That there is a purpose for you, and that only you can fulfill it?" The plot features dangerous wildlifesnakes, bats, wolves, etc.and harsh natural elements until Season faces his final confrontation, at which point the author introduces mystical forces disguised as humans and a perplexing resolution to the quest. Readers may feel blindsided by the revelation that his quest has been engineered by divine forces at war, but this sudden turn infuses the novel with new life, converting the story from a standard quest into a more fantasy-oriented trek. The fitting conclusion should leave readers of all ages satisfied. Any link to Christmas, a holiday mentioned several times in the story, is overwhelmed by the general, world-saving nature of Season's journey. Although not mentioned in the book, Season hopefully has more quests in his future.
Fans of animal tales will gobble up this tale of a dog who loves his girl and ends up saving the world.