Faithful blog readers will remember that I blogged about Sheri's path to publication last spring. Today I'm pleased to review this book for middle school girls and offer it as a giveaway.
Trina, the 13-year-old protagonist has been training her service dog, Sydney, for a year. Her beach vacation doubles as a fun time introducing her Australian Shepherd to the ocean but it is bittersweet; Trina knows it will end by returning him to his kennel for his final training. This heart-tug theme is woven through out the book as Trina wrestles with knowing that her job is over and wondering if she could ever take on training another puppy.
In this sweet coming of age story readers will sympathize with Trina as she tries to figure out how to gain more independence from her parents; how to relate to a best friend who is quickly smitten by Peyton, a guy they meet in the beach; and how to talk to Chase, Peyton's brother--who just might be interested in her.
For me, one of the most touching parts of this book is Trina's interaction with Logan, Chase and Peyton's autistic seven-year-old brother. Together Trina and Sydney are able to relate to Logan in such a way that helps him begin to communicate better. Here is an excerpt from their first meeting on the beach:
I called to Logan.
He did a one-sided skip toward me.
"Do you want to practice calling Sydney?"
He nodded and his eyes rose for a moment.
Logan clapped and bounced.
I patted his shoulder and said, "Stand. Don't move. Then Sydney can listen."
After a couple more hops, his hands grabbed his shorts and squeezed. He gulped short breaths of air and then shouted, "Syd-ney." He started to clap and then put his hands back on his shorts and said, "Come."
Sydney raced to Logan.
I said, "Good boy, Sydney."
Logan's eyes caught mine before he bowed his head.
I finished saying, "Logan, you did great."
Logan held a treat in front of Syd's face. "Good doggie. Good Syd-ney."
I tingled inside. This was a perfect example of Sydney's talent. I stretched taller, seeing the happiness in Logan's face. "Can I hug you, Logan?" (p.69)Sheri's background in teaching children with special needs as well as her own experience with rescue dogs is infused into this book. If you are interested in receiving a gently read autographed copy, including an opportunity to download a free e-book version, please leave me a comment by 8 PM on October 16th. If I don't have your contact information, make sure you leave that too. U.S. addresses only.