A dog with a plan adopts a chaotic family in a wry comedy extolling the virtues of common sense. When Ma Peachey takes up yoga, the rest of the family finds themselves abandoned to chaos: no one cooks dinner, no one picks up the dirty laundry, the children are always late for school, and there is a good deal of squabbling and squalor. Ma may be off finding inner peace, but irritable Pa Peachey, glum Ava, and wannabe girl-charmer Ollie are falling apart. Only Betty, the sensible youngest child, is wise enough to see that this family is in need of rescue. Enter McTavish, a rescue dog who, true to his mission, is ready to teach this family some new tricks. Getting the Peacheys to behave will take work, but if anyone can do it, McTavish can. After all, he’s a very good dog — maybe even a psychological mastermind!
Fetching from start to finish, this novel by Printz Award winner Rosoff (How I Live Now) introduces the Peacheys, a family in disarray, and McTavish, the clever canine who comes to their rescue. There is "a great deal more squabbling and a great deal more squalor" in the household after Ma Peachey abdicates household responsibilities to immerse herself in yoga. Betty, the youngest and wisest of three siblings, proclaims she is "feeling lost, lonesome, and lacking in love," and suggests that they adopt a dog. Pa Peachey begrudgingly drives his kids to an animal shelter "Just to browse" but relents when Betty and McTavish irrevocably bond. The inclusion of the take-charge dog's voice augments the narrative's hilarity (he deems humans "puzzlingly dim"). The fact that responsibility for running the household falls entirely on the mother might feel like a frustrating throwback, but many readers may recognize their own families in the dynamics here. McTavish's sorting-out of the Peacheys conveniently serves his own interests (he uses clothes strewn on the floor to make his bed cozier and feigns lack of appetite to get the kids to cook healthy meals for all) while teaching his new family much-needed lessons with droll flair. Ages 7 10.