cover image Haru, Zombie Dog Hero

Haru, Zombie Dog Hero

Ellen Oh. HarperCollins, $18.99 (176p) ISBN 978-0-0632-7229-3

Oh (the Spirit Hunters series) centers the relationship between a dog and his human in this spellbinding tale with Frankenweenie vibes. In third-person chapters that follow canine Haru Haru, the pooch recounts how he saves his 11-year-old Korean American–cued human Luke from a rabid raccoon while traipsing through the woods. The event is quickly eclipsed by a chemical fire at Sinclair, a local research laboratory that has been polluting a nearby lake. Stray cat Penelope informs Haru that Sinclair is a “bad place” where “animals go in, but they never come back out.” When Luke and Haru return to Luke’s family deli, racist remarks from their white landlady prompt a physical altercation, and after Haru lunges in Luke’s defense, he’s seized by animal control, which takes him to Sinclair. But even in his dire situation, he remains determined to return to Luke, no matter what. This riveting adventure is not without its melancholy moments, but Oh skillfully balances inexplicit descriptions of animal abuse with adrenaline-fueled action. Tender character relationships between both pup and human, and the myriad fully realized animals Haru meets along his journey, combine for a multilayered and thoroughly heartfelt must-read. Ages 8–12. Agent: Nancy Gallt, Gallt & Zacker Literary. (July)