cover image Duke


Kirby Larson. Scholastic Press, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-545-41637-5

Life on the WWII home front is real and wrenching in this triumphant novel by Newbery Honor author Larson. Fifth-grader Hobie’s losses are deep: his father is off flying B-24s in Europe, his best friend has left their Seattle hometown, and—after considerable anguish—he lends Duke, his German shepherd, to the military’s Dogs for Defense program. Though distance separates Hobie and Duke, Larson reveals the bond between them as the ballast that keeps Hobie grounded and hopeful. Hobie answers letters from Duke’s Marine handler (which are written mostly in Duke’s voice) with misleading notes intended to secure his pet’s release from service—until he divulges a critical fact that enables Duke to save lives in battle. Despite its finely detailed historical setting, this incisive tale of loyalty, patriotism, sacrifice, and bravery transcends its era. Ages 8–12. (Sept.)