I’m happy to report that I just finished reading the last of this year’s South Carolina Children’s Book Award nominees. I’ll admit that I was reluctant to read this final book, A Dog’s Way Home by Bobbie Pyron. Even though most of my students absolutely love “dog books,” I confess that they aren’t my favorites. These books are almost always heart-breaking, and, contrary to popular belief, I’m extremely tender-hearted, and I can’t stand starting a book knowing that there probably won’t be a happy ending…especially for the poor animal around which the book is centered. (I blame Old Yeller for this. That book/movie scarred me for life.) So, it was with a bit of trepidation that I began to read A Dog’s Way Home, and I was right about this book being a heartbreaker, but, unlike so many other “dog books,” this one offered a fair amount of hope that dog and owner would somehow find their way back to each other, even when so many obstacles were in the way.
Abby’s best friend is her beloved Shetland sheepdog, Tam. The two are always together, and they even compete in agility competitions (which they usually win because they seem to read each others’ minds). On the way home from a competition in Virginia, however, a horrible accident on the treacherous Blue Ridge Parkway separates Abby and Tam. Abby is sure that her precious dog is still alive and trying to find his way back to her…all the way home to Harmony Gap, North Carolina. Even when Abby and her family move to Nashville (something Abby is not happy about), she never loses hope that she will be reunited with Tam one day.
Tam is lost and alone for the first time in his life. He has only two goals: survive and find his way back to his girl. As Tam makes his way south toward where he’s sure he’ll find Abby, surviving is becoming more difficult. Winter is on its way, and Tam must rely on all his instincts–and the help of some surprising new friends–to live through the season. As the days, weeks, and months pass, Tam begins to forget much about his old life as he becomes more like a wild animal and less like the pampered dog he once was. But, somehow, he always remembers that he belongs somewhere else, and he is doing everything he can to get back to the place–and the girl–that is his true home.
Both Abby and Tam are facing new situations and dangers they never expected, but these two friends have a bond that transcends everything. It’s this bond that helps both of them hope for the day when they’ll see each other again. Even though hundreds of miles separate them, Abby and Tam are determined to find each other…and they’ll stop at nothing to make that happen. Find out how Tam makes his way home to Abby’s welcoming arms when you read A Dog’s Way Home by Bobbie Pyron.
I’m confident that my students will devour this book. Books about dogs are not exactly a hard sell in my library anyway, but I think this one stands out from the crowd. A Dog’s Way Home is told from both Abby’s and Tam’s perspectives, so it shows how strong the relationship between pet and owner can truly be. Anyone who’s ever had a pet will appreciate this.
There are so many things to love about A Dog’s Way Home–the setting, the relationships, the will to survive, and the love between Abby and Tam. I sincerely believe that my students will enjoy this book as much as I did (even though I really didn’t expect to). I highly recommend this book to all readers, especially those in 3rd-6th grades who have a special bond with their own pets.
For more information about this heart-warming book and author Bobbie Pyron, visit http://www.bobbiepyron.com/. Enjoy!