In the spirit of of Where the Red Fern Grows and Because of Winn Dixie, this is a contemporary classic in the making about a boy and his dog, and a choice that will test their loyalty and trust.
Danny Mack is a rising rodeo star in rural Oregon. He lives on a ranch with his older brother, their dad, and his faithful border collie, Banjo.
Late one night, Danny is awakened by gunshots. Banjo has been wounded. The neighbors claim he was going after their livestock, which gives them the right to shoot the dog or have him put down. Dad reluctantly agrees. They must obey the law. Danny knows Banjo is innocent, and comes up with a desperate plan to save him--but something goes terribly wrong.
Days later, on a distant ranch, Meg Harris finds a frightened dog alone in the woods. Banjo. She takes him home and searches for the dog's owner, furious that he was abandoned. She's not going to give Banjo up easily.
Told by Danny and by Meg, this fast-paced, heartrending novel explores the deep connection between humans and animals, and reminds readers that you can't judge an animal--or a person--before you know their story.
Salisbury (Hunt for the Bamboo Rat) sets his latest novel in Oregon ranch country, where he explores themes of loyalty, honesty, and the delicate balance between livestock and pets. Summer vacation seems off to a good start for 13-year-old Danny as he practices for the county fair and rodeo's team-roping event with his border collie, Banjo. But everything changes when the unpleasant neighbor boys falsely accuse Banjo of attacking their sheep. Per the law of the land, Banjo must be killed, even though Danny is sure that his well-behaved pup is innocent. A botched scheme to save Banjo's life lands the dog lost and afraid in a nearby woods, where he's eventually rescued by Meg, a young animal lover who becomes fixated on finding Banjo's owner. Salisbury transports readers with his evocative descriptions of the rural Oregon landscape, rodeo events, and the chore-filled days of life on a ranch. He adroitly builds suspense by relating Banjo's journey in brief alternating chapters told from Danny and Meg's points of view. A tail-wagging denouement wraps things up in believable fashion. Ages 10 up.