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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

white fur flying, written by Patricia MacLachlan. Margaret K. McElderry Books, Simon & Schuster.2013. $18.99 ages 7 and up

"Phillip walked down the yard toward Kodi. He stopped partway. We could see his lips move. Kodi turned around to look at him, then bounded away from the fence down to the grove of trees and stopped to look over the fields of cows.
"He talks," I said. "Phillip said something to Kodi."
"It seems so," said Daddy.

I don't know how she does it; but, Patricia MacLachlan has written another elegant and memorable novel concerning a family's love for dogs and the healing power of the human-canine connection. She continues her run with me...I love every single book she has written and I have each one of them.

Zoe Cassidy narrates this story of her family. Her mother rescues Great Pyrenees dogs and brings them back to health  before allowing their adoption. Her father is a veterinarian who brings home strays in need of care; this time it's an African grey parrot whose name is Lena and whose favorite phrase is 'you cahn't know!' Alice, her younger sister, is the storyteller in the family. She loves to tell stories of witches, and princes.

When a new family moves in next door, the Cassidys watch as a man, a woman and a young boy make their way up the front walk. In quick time they meet Phillip and discover that he does not talk.
Rather, he peers through the fence at the dogs and the people who live there. It isn't long until Kodi, their own Great Pyr, has an impact.

Readers learn that Phillip's family is 'solving a problem' and that is why he is staying with his aunt and uncle. Their household is a quiet one, each one trying to adapt to the changes that have taken place. The Cassidy house is full of noise, warmth and shared love. It is an atmosphere that draws Phillip in and allows he and his aunt to find a measure of understanding.

When a new dog is rescued, Phillip bonds with him immediately. A rainstorm, an open gate and a new dog's unfamiliarity with his surroundings create the tension that is a culminating event for all involved. Jack runs, Phillip follows. Mom is off to find them and soon Zoe is, too. A frantic search through nearby buildings leads Zoe to them and to safety from the rain and hail.  All are safe and Jack is hailed as hero by Phillip.

This warm and moving story is beautifully told, not surprising when you consider the writer. Her innate ability to tell stories that make a difference is a gift to each one of us. She reaches for our hearts with characters who matter, with stories that are sensitive and satisfying. And, she does it every time!

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