1992 Newbery: Shiloh

shiloh

I avoided this book for many years, because it’s about a dog, and I assumed that in classic Newbery fashion, the dog would have to die. But I am here to tell you it’s safe to read this book: no dogs die! (At least not any dogs that you know and personally care about. In other words, SHILOH DOESN’T DIE.) I realize that’s a spoiler, but when there are dogs and Newberys involved, plots must be spoiled.

I liked this book, more or less. The voice of Marty, the main character, is very well done, and Marty’s ethical dilemma—does he hide a runaway dog from its abusive owner and lie to his parents about it or tell the truth and be forced to return the dog to an owner who has threatened to shoot it?—is at least mildly compelling. The West Virginia setting is particularly strongly drawn, and the Preston family is likeable and believable.

What I didn’t like was the bad guy, Judd Travers, who is so rotten you can’t understand why grown men don’t just go up to him and punch him in the face. He’s so mean and ignorant that he almost becomes a caricature.

(Also, if you Google Shiloh, you’re mostly going to get photos of Shiloh Jolie-Pitt.)

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