cover image Mutt’s Promise

Mutt’s Promise

Julie Salamon, illus. by Jill Weber. Dial, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-525-42778-0

Salamon and Weber trade the feline focus and urban setting of Cat in the City for an endearing tale of a mother dog and her good-natured puppies, set on a farm cozily evoked in the artist’s spot illustrations. Salamon’s uplifting story begins when a golden-red dog wanders onto a farm and rescues the owner’s cat from an attack by a fisher, earning her the right to stay. Called “Mutt” by the farmer, she settles in as watchdog and delivers a litter of four, who live happily under the care of a migrant worker’s son, Gilbert. Gilbert teaches puppy Luna to dance, which brings her joy and celebrity on the farm, but circumstances soon change, and Luna and her brother Chief end up in a puppy mill. Their ensuing journey back to a happy life swings predictably between successes and setbacks, but both dogs fulfill their mother’s promise—that they will find their own special talents. Mutt’s musings on motherhood add thoughtful notes, and while the ending almost stretches credibility, it’s tempered by her realistic concluding confession: “Sometimes a promise is a hope, not a prediction.” Ages 8–12. Agent: Kathy Robbins, Robbins Office. (Mar.)