Webster: Tale of an Outlaw

Ellen Emerson White. S&S/Aladdin, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-4814-2201-7

After three failed adoptions, a retriever decides that he doesn’t need a home or a family. At his new shelter, where he is named Webster, he promptly renames himself the Bad Hat and assumes a gruff indifference to the good food, nice accommodations, and camaraderie available to him. He eventually runs away, venturing around town envisioning himself as an outlaw, cowboy, or spy. Since Webster doesn’t come back to the shelter (except for kibble and episodes of Masterpiece Classic each midnight), the shelter animals take turns joining him on what end up being rescue adventures (saving a drowning man, herding a lost sheep, etc.). White’s (the President’s Daughter series) anthropomorphized animals talk and act like overly sophisticated adults (“Be sweet to him—he’s still deeply mired in his traumatized phase”), which may distance the text from its intended audience. Though the emphasis on the importance of pet adoption and rescue groups is admirable and emotionally resonant, it ends up a meandering and fairly conventional homeless dog story. Ages 8–12. [em]Agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Nov.) [/em]