by Eleanor Estes
Here is a Newbery award-winning novel for young readers, from a series of books set in the imaginary town of Cranbury, Connecticut (based on Estes' hometown). Most of the books, which include two Newbery Honor Books (the children's book equivalent of getting nominated but not winning an Academy Award), have to do with the Moffat family, but this one and at least one other have to do with the Pye family, consisting of Mom and Dad (Dad's a well-known "bird man"), a boy and a girl (age 10 and 9, respectively), an 11-year-old cat, Gramma and Grampa and a 3-year-old Uncle who live nearby, and the title character - the new puppy, a bright and talented fox-terrier mix named Ginger (who, interestingly, is male).
The boy, Jerry, falls in love with Ginger at first sight and decides to buy him from the farm family in whose barn he was born. But first he has to earn $1 in a day and a half, and in the mid 1950s (the setting of the story) that's doing something. He has only so long before the next person in line to adopt the pup claims him, so he's getting desperate when the town basketball hero hires him to dust pews at the town church for $1. He adopts Ginger just in time, but on the way home it seems someone is following them...the first of several signs that the other person who wanted the dog is still after him, leading up to the dramatic Thanksgiving Day when the puppy is stolen out of the family's backyard.
Poor young Jerry spends months searching desperately for his puppy, never giving up except for illness (but even then his sister goes on looking for him), and after a series of adventures and false hopes the kids find out what happened to Ginger. It's a charming, warm family tale with a little bit of sadness and a lot of humor and imagination. The characters are great, and you really do feel bad about the kids losing their dog. But most of all, like all of Estes' books, it is a story touched with sweet nostalgia and youthful adventure.
Recommended Age: 8+
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