Monday, May 28, 2018

A Pup Called Trouble: A Review

Congratulations to Rosi Hollenbeck who won OOTHAR THE BLUE and Cathy Ogren who won MAY I COME IN?

A Pup Called Trouble (Kathy Tegan Books, 2018) by Bobbie Pyron is an engaging story that 3-5th grade students or older reluctant readers will enjoy. Based on true stories of coyotes who live in New York's Central Park, the book is told mostly through the point of view of the aptly named coyote, Trouble. Pyron, who makes her home  in the Utah mountains, spent four days roaming around Manhattan imaging how the city would smell, sound, and look to a lost coyote pup. Those four days became the backbone for this story. 

Although the child reader may not recognize herself in the story, Trouble’s desire to experience what his parents have forbidden is very child-like. Pyron sets up this identification at the beginning of the book when Trouble’s parents take him to see a tractor for the first time. Whereas his siblings fear the loud noise it makes, Trouble responds:

“It sounds huge,” Trouble exclaimed. “It sounds exciting! Can we go see?” (p. 16) 

After he sees Makers (humans) for the first time, he bombards his mother,
[Trouble] raced in circles of excitement. "Can we see more tomorrow?" (p. 21-22)
"No, she snapped. "Nothing good comes from Makers."
Swift shivered with fright. Pounced moved closer to his father, and Star trembled. 
Trouble's eyes glowed with dreamy curiosity. (p. 21-22)

Inevitably, the pup’s curiosity gets him into trouble. The reader sees and feels what happens when Trouble hides inside a truck. "...a loud, low growl rumbled to life beneath Trouble's feet. It grew louder and louder, shaking the floor and the walls and the ceiling of the shelter. Then, to Trouble's horror, the Beast lurched to life."(p.30). 

He finds himself in a "stone forest [which] rose so high it cut the wide blue expanse to wedges and slivers of white (p. 33). His senses are accosted by strange scents, sounds, and sights--not the least of which is the Makers "looking intently at a small something [they] held in their hands." At one point he is surrounded by Makers of all sizes. "Trouble leaped to his feet, spun in circles looking for the cover of forest, trees, bushes, anything where he could hide. Nothing. Everything was hard. Solid. Unforgiving." (p. 33)

Although Trouble admits that he's lost in this strange world, his curiosity drives him further and further from the truck that brought him to the city. When a crow named Mischief spies Trouble and takes an interest in him, there are great opportunities for fun and games as the two ride a subway, scare New Yorkers, and cause general mayhem. 

Mischief introduces him to other animals living in Central Park and Trouble falls in love with a poodle named Minette. As a result of these friendships, Trouble begins to lose his homesickness and begins to start liking his new life. His friends are alarmed and arrange for him to visit the "Place of the Once Wild." At the city zoo Trouble's eyes are opened to see what he risks losing. 

Ultimately, it is the fact that his friends band together to save him from the consequences of his poor decision that helps Trouble return home. The "good friends help friends stay out of trouble" moral-of-the-story is subtly and sweetly woven into a book that boys and girls will both enjoy. 

Once again, I can't part with this book! My animal loving granddaughters will love it! 

Bobbie Pyron is the author of five award-winning, critically-acclaimed middle grade and young adult novels including A DOG'S WAY HOME, THE DOGS OF WINTER, and LUCKY STRIKE. She lives in Park City, Utah with her husband, dogs, and occasional moose.


Young Authors Program said...

This sounds like a book my son would love to read! He loves animals and a book about coyotes sounds great!

Augusta Scattergood said...

Agree with you on this, Carol. Great writing, exciting story, terrific book.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Dorothy and Augusta!

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