In these three finely crafted novellas that chart the emotional ties that bind man and man’s best friend together, a brilliant dog changes places with his basketball playing master, a young man falls in love with a dog trainer, and a newspaper delivery boy tries desperately to find an appropriate final resting place for one of his customer’s beloved pets.
This herky-jerky collection of three dog-related stories never fully gels; none of the pieces is quite strong enough to stand on its own, and the combination of the entries doesn't add much enhancement. The best is "Puppy Love," which deals with a teenage boy who visits his uncle for the summer, develops a crush on a dog trainer and then gets a dog as a way of getting to know the trainer. Characterizations are generally convincing, even if some of the figures seem more like types. The weakest is the title story, about a lonely boy who can't stand to see his neighbor's dead dog headed for the incinerator, so he steals it, puts it in the freezer, then searches all over New York City for a place to bury the body; he's a troubled kid who doesn't want his parents to get divorced. The mood here wavers between black comedy and just plain weird. The third story, wildly different in tone, involves a boy and his dog who wake up to find they've exchanged places-the boy's a dog and the dog's a boy-just in time for the big high school basketball game. The writing feels a little rushed, and the plot is none too fresh. A poem dedicated to the memory of a pet dog, "Giles' Song" by Gina Mazer, is tacked on at the end of the book. Ages 8-12.