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What We’re Reading: Hound Dog True

Post by Kathy Stewart
Posted December 23, 2013 in NoveList Bookshelf, Readers' Advisory News

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Hound Dog True

by Linda Urban

Not many of us enjoy being the new kid at school, and Mattie Breen, the shy and likable protagonist in Hound Dog True, is no exception. Mattie’s mom gets “twitchy” easily, and before you know it, she’s putting Mattie’s things in a giveaway box -- and off they go. This time, the new situation is better than usual because they’ve moved in with lively Uncle Potluck, a school janitor, whom Mattie works with before the new school year starts. The fifth-grader is attentive, hard working and even takes notes, so her perceptive, yarn-spinning uncle will understand her value and make her his permanent “Custodial Assistant.” In this way, Mattie will have a place to go during the times she dreads at her school -- like lunch, with no place to sit and recess, without any friends.

This quiet story beautifully captures those large and small moments -- like introducing yourself, dealing with being misunderstood and tolerating mean girls -- in a way that is entirely convincing. As someone who moved frequently as a child, the thoughtful prose, perceptive portrayal of a girl’s internal struggles, and cadre of well-developed characters, resonated with me like few middle grade novels. Recommended by Kathy Stewart.