cover image Rotten


Michael Northrop. Scholastic Press, $17.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-545-49587-5

Sixteen-year-old Jimmer Dobbs, known to his friends as JD, returns from a vague absence “upstate” to find that his mother has replaced him with a Rottweiler from a rescue shelter. JD christens the dog Johnny Rotten (after the Sex Pistols singer), but because the dog has been abused, it takes a while for Johnny Rotten to trust the new man around the house. When Johnny Rotten bites one of JD’s friends, the friend’s family smells a payday and files suit. Because the dog has bitten before, his days are likely numbered. This JD cannot abide. He attempts to bribe the friend into dropping the lawsuit by coming clean about his summer away. Northrop (Trapped) has a keen eye for the way teens move through the world (one of JD’s buddies never parks when picking him up. He “just rolls to a stop along the side of the road, like it’s a bank heist”) and for the mix of bravado and vulnerability that can drive boys’ friendships and interactions. A sure bet for any reader who loves an underdog, human or canine. Ages 12–up. Agent: Sara Crowe, Harvey Klinger. (Apr.)