Duke by Kirby Larson

ImageThe Plot In Five Sentences or Less:  Hobie Hanson is a 5th grader in Seattle, Washington during World War II.  His father is away fighting the Germans, so Hobie spends most of his time with his friends and his German Shepherd Duke.  Life is not easy without his dad around, and only becomes harder when Mitch Mitchell, the school bully, sets his eyes on him and challenges him to give up Duke for the Dogs for Defense Program.  Much to Mitch’s surprise, Hobie rises to the challenge and soon Duke is part of the war effort and on his way to the Pacific.  Hobbie finds that he now must adjust to life both without his dad and his dog.

My Take:  I found this to be a very straight forward book about a boy’s experience and sacrifice on the home front during World War II.  My one criticism would be that Larson could have risked introducing more strangeness into the story.  There was a lot of baseball and paper routes, what one might consider stock 1950’s Americana.  Still, for those looking for a good read about the connection between and boy and his dog, this is a good pick.

One Interesting Note About the Author:  According to her website, Kirby was born at Fort Lawton Army Hospital in Seattle, Washington. She cost $5.

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