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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780064421478
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/28/2002
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 112
Product dimensions: 5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.22(d)
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

Katherine Paterson is one of the world’s most celebrated and beloved authors. Among her many awards are two Newberys and two National Book Awards, and she was recently named a "Living Legend” by the Library of Congress. She has been published in more than 22 languages in a variety of formats, from picture books to historical novels.

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.

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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