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Patricia Calvert / Author Scribner Book Company $16 (137p) ISB

Calvert's ( The Snowbird ; Yesterday's Daughter ) sweeping, deeply moving historical novel may well bring tears to the reader's eyes. The Civil War has ended, yet 12-year-old Tyler still awaits tidings of his father, Black Jack Bohannon, who left four years earlier, in 1861, with General Jo Shelby's Iron Cavalry Brigade of Missouri. Learning that Shelby and his men are on their way to Mexico to keep the Confederacy alive, Tyler sets out to find his father and bring him home. He undertakes the 800-mile journey on foot, with only a few dollars in his pocket (incidentally, he returns with change), and is joined by the title character, an ornery ``devil dog'' that becomes his inseparable friend and protector. An encounter with Isaac, an African American youth bearing the still-fresh scars of slavery, causes Tyler to doubt for the first time his father's judgment in fighting for the South. Black Jack, no fairy tale father, turns out not to be the homesick hero of his son's imaginings. Thought-provoking, imbued with powerful emotion and conveying a timeless theme, this is historical fiction at its best. Ages 9-11. (Apr.)