“Shiloh” by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Image result for shiloh by phyllis reynolds naylorThe Plot In Five Sentences Or Less:  Marty Preston is an 11 year old who lives in the hill country of  West Virginia.  While out exploring the countryside, he encounters a beagle who follows him home.  Marty immediately takes to the animal and names it Shiloh.  He is soon disappointed when he learns that Shiloh belongs to Judd Travers, a neighbor who abuses his animals.  Marty’s struggle over the ownership of Shiloh forces him to face questions about right and wrong, loyalty, and friendship.

My Take: Shiloh won the Newberry Medal in 1992 and the quality of Naylor’s writing certainly justifies this award. As I was reading the novel, I found myself wishing that I had read this book years earlier in my library career.  The story of a boy and his dog is a well worn theme in juvenile literature, but Naylor’s handling of the material never seems stale or cliche.  As readers we immediately appreciate the relationship between Marty and Shiloh and we know that it must endure.  Our hearts are invested.  Naylor deserves credit for rounding out the character of Judd Travers, a man who has himself experienced abuse.  I would recommend this book to anyone looking for the feel of a classic story.

One Interesting Note About The Author:  According to her biography on her website, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor was making ‘books’ as far back as the 4th and 5th grade.  She would write on scratch paper, draw pictures, and then staple it all together.

 

“Wishtree” by Katherine Applegate

Image result for wishtree by applegateThe Plot In Five Sentences Or Less:  Red is a scarlet oak that has stood in a neighborhood for 216 years.  The local people use Red as a wishtree, writing wishes onto scraps of paper or cloth and tying them onto the branches.  When a Muslim family moves into a house close by, Red and its companion animals befriend the daughter named Samar.  But when an act of hate targets Samar’s family, Red finds that she must take a more active role in protecting the people and animals in her neighborhood.

My Take:  Wishtree is an excellent entry into the category of juvenile fiction that deals with immigration and racial tension.   This tale will certainly ring familiar to readers in Trump’s America.  Applegate doesn’t clutter up the tale and instead allows the simplicity of the story and the gentle voice of Red guide the narrative.  Adults who are struggling to explain racism and persecution to children will appreciate this book

One Interesting Thing About The Author:  Katherine Applegate is not only the author of The One And Only Ivan, 2013 Newberry Medal Winner, but also the Animorphs series.