cover image Secondhand Dogs

Secondhand Dogs

Carolyn Crimi, illus. by Melissa Manwil. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-298918-5

Former shelter dogs Gus, a scruffy terrier, and his pack—Tank the bulldog; anxious, three-legged hunting dog Roo; and smallest, youngest member, Moon Pie the pug—lead an idyllic life with Miss Lottie, a large bespectacled woman with gray frizzy hair, and her 11-year-old assistant Quinn, both of whom appear white. But one day, Miss Lottie introduces the pack to part-shepherd, part-husky Decker, the newest addition to the motley crew. Feeling a sense of unease from the moment that “bright and cold” Decker is introduced, leader Gus struggles to make quick, conclusive decisions, especially after Decker makes his distaste for the other dogs clear. As Gus’s role as leader is slowly usurped through Decker’s underhanded operations, Gus worries about disappointing his friends—and initially doesn’t notice when Moon Pie escapes to find his previous owner. Crimi (Weird Little Robots) spins a stirring tale about found family, switching between each character’s perspective to present nuanced takes on their individual struggles. B&w illustrations by Manwil (When Penny Met POTUS) provide welcome visual breaks for younger readers. Tender takeaways abound in this compassionate tale, notably that “love makes all the difference.” Ages 8–12. Agent: Steph Fretwell-Hill, Red Fox Literary. (July)