The 2005 Newbery Medal-winning author of "Kira-Kira" returns with this action-packed glimpse into the Vietnam War, as seen through the eyes of a German shepherd trained to sniff out bombs, traps, and the enemy, and her handler, a young soldier who thinks he's not tough enough for war.The 2005 Newbery Medal-winning author of "Kira-Kira" returns with this action-packed glimpse into the Vietnam War, as seen through the eyes of a German shepherd trained to sniff out bombs, traps, and the enemy, and her handler, a young soldier who thinks he's not tough enough for war.Read Less
Publishers Weekly, 2007-05-21 Since winning a Newbery medal for her World War II book, Kira-Kira, Kadohata has ventured into the muddier world, literally and figuratively, of the Vietnam War (the "American War" to the Vietnamese). Cracker-bred as a show dog, raised as a pet and later trained as a booby-trap-sniffing military canine-is a heroic and sympathetic character. Some of the tale is told from the perspectives of her boy owner, Willie, and her partner/trainer, Rick, but the lion's share is from Cracker's vantage point. Farr narrates the piece with patience and perfect diction. Her calm tone is only broken whenever trauma rears its head, and though there is plenty of tension, overall her Cracker keeps a Zen-like innocence and calm throughout (with an occasional shout of "Wiener!" when a favorite training treat is detected). In the same way that Kadohata avoids discussing the reasons for the conflict, Farr's portrayal of Cracker successfully keeps listeners inside the world of a dog's mind, to great effect. Ages 10-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly, 2007-01-15 The author of Weedflower and Kira-Kira takes readers back to the Vietnam War era in this meticulously researched story about a special friendship that develops between an American soldier and a dog. When 17-year-old Rick Hanski enlists in the army, he intends to "whip the world," but he soon finds out that he can't do it alone. As a dog handler, he relies on Cracker, a sharp-minded German shepherd to protect him from danger and provide him with companionship during his tour of duty in Vietnam. The author builds tension when Rick and Cracker are sent on a mission to rescue two POWs, and again when they are taken by surprise in an ambush attack. Alternating human and canine points of view, Kadohata shows how Rick and Cracker come to trust and depend on each other during times of crisis. Rick's thoughts encapsulate the confusion and growing paranoia of soldiers living in a land where friends and foes are hardly distinguishable. Cracker's perspective represents more basic emotions, though some readers may be troubled by occasional anthropomorphization (e.g., "Cracker didn't think the dog was crazy. He was just protecting his handler. She kind of respected him"). Although the author remains politically neutral in telling her tale, she does acknowledge war protesters' attitudes and deftly conveys the way Rick's own feelings about the war change over time. Offering adventure mixed with stark realism, this novel will leave a lasting impression on readers. Ages 10-up. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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