Chad blames his grandfather Jeep and his older sister, Julia, for the death of his dog last fall. Now, as an empty summer yawns before him, Chad still isn't speaking to jeep, he avoids Julia, and he does his best to ignore the rest of the family, especially the new dog, Queenie. But on this quiet Vermont hillside there's no one but family, nothing to fill the long days ahead.
Then a new neighbor, David Burton, moves in down the hill. David is a shaper, a dog trainer who shapes animals' behavior using positive reinforcement. He needs an assistant, and he offers Chad the job. David also has a daughter, Louise beautiful, feisty, a dancer-who's only a year older than Chad. Suddenly Chad's life, which had seemed simple if painful, is terribly, wonderfully, confusingly complicated....
Chad uses Queenie to learn David's techniques-but who is being shaped here, Queenie, or Chad himself? And can Chad's new knowledge help him heal and find a place in his strong-willed, volatile family?
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Jessie Haashas written four books about Nora and her grandparents: Hurry!, Sugaring; No Foal Yet; and Mowing. She is the author of a popular series of young novels about Lily and her mare, Beware, which includes Beware and Stogie; Be Well, Beware; A Blue for Beware; and Beware the Mare. The author's titles for older readers include Unbroken; Fire! My Parents' Story; Westminster West; and Uncle Daney's Way. Ms. Haas is a graduate of Wellesley College, a political activist, and a lifelong Vermonter. In Her Own Words...
"I grew up on a small Vermont farm. My childhood was full of haying, gardening, horseback riding, and animals. I trained my own horse. I was given a goat for my sixteenth birthday. My mother was the town poundkeeper, so we had an endless stream of stray cats and dogs coming through. Lots of them stayed.
"Along with animals, there was reading. Everywhere. Even in the bathtub. I read all the horse stories ever written, as first choice, and then anything else printed on a page. At Wellesley, influenced by Jane Austen and all those horse stories, I wrote my first novel, Keeping Barney. My teacher, Helen Corsa, suggested I send the book to Susan Hirschman, a former student of hers. Greenwillow rejected Keeping Barney with many useful suggestions. I took them, and the book was accepted a month before I graduated.
"That same month I married Michael Daley, and three years later we built a tiny cabin just uphill from my parents' cow pasture. We had one room at first, with no insulation, no phone, no plumbing, and no electricity-but a very small mortgage. The little house gave us-still gives us-the freedom to pursue our interests without having to get "real jobs." I've worked at a vegetable stand, a village store, and a yarn mill, all part-time, while concentrating mainly on my writing.
"I still live the same kind of life I did growing up. I ride a horse I trained myself. A cat sleeps on my desk as I work. I walk to my parents' farm every day, and I can pick out the exact spot in the pasture where my horse Josey gave me Beware the Mare.
"Writing is a lot like the other things I do. Sometimes it's like planting seeds, and rewriting is a lot like weeding! Then when a story is ripe, it's put in a book to preserve it. Other times, writing feels more like riding, a process of balance, rebalance, and profound concentration. A story can go sour, just like a horse. You have to push it, but not too hard, and keep it moving freely forward.
"I love the challenge of trying to put the truth down on paper. I want to make the words transparent, so that the page becomes an open window. I hope to pass along, through my stories, the joy and strength that others have given to me."From School Library Journal:
Grade 5-8-Grieving over the recent loss of his beloved dog, 14-year-old Chad Holloway feels hurt and isolated from his family, especially from his grandfather, who ended Shep's life with a mercy bullet after the animal was hit by a car. The teen meets his unconventional new neighbor, David Burton, who enlists his aid to move a refrigerator and, later on, offers him a summer job as a research assistant. The man is a "shaper" who uses sounds from a clicker to train animals to exhibit desired behaviors. He wants to demonstrate the process with Queenie, the seemingly witless dog that Chad's family bought to replace Shep. Chad is not as intrigued by the work as he is by Burton's 15-year-old daughter, who seems oblivious to his crush on her. Yet through her, Chad begins to find his way back to his family and himself. The novel flounders almost from the start because Haas makes only marginal references to the circumstances of the dog's death and Chad's anguish over it, giving little credibility to the protagonist. Hollow characters, hackneyed dialogue, and a rambling plot further weaken the story, despite several engaging scenes that detail the shaping process with horses, dogs, and cats. The characters deliver awkward homilies on the underlying theme-that people can shape one another as well as their animals. Even die-hard animal lovers will find little to hold their interest.
William McLoughlin, Brookside School, Worthington, OH
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Greenwillow Books 2002-01-01, 2002. Library Binding. Book Condition: New. Library Binding. Publisher overstock, may contain remainder mark on edge. Bookseller Inventory # 9780060001711B
Book Description Greenwillow Books, 2002. Library Binding. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0060001712