cover image Cracker!: The Best Dog in Vietnam

Cracker!: The Best Dog in Vietnam

Cynthia Kadohata, , read by Kimberly Farr. . Listening Library, $39 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-7393-3888-9

Since winning a Newbery medal for her World War II book, Kira-Kira , Kadohata has ventured into the muddier world, literally and figuratively, of the Vietnam War (the “American War” to the Vietnamese). Cracker—bred as a show dog, raised as a pet and later trained as a booby-trap-sniffing military canine—is a heroic and sympathetic character. Some of the tale is told from the perspectives of her boy owner, Willie, and her partner/trainer, Rick, but the lion's share is from Cracker's vantage point. Farr narrates the piece with patience and perfect diction. Her calm tone is only broken whenever trauma rears its head, and though there is plenty of tension, overall her Cracker keeps a Zen-like innocence and calm throughout (with an occasional shout of “Wiener!” when a favorite training treat is detected). In the same way that Kadohata avoids discussing the reasons for the conflict, Farr's portrayal of Cracker successfully keeps listeners inside the world of a dog's mind, to great effect. Ages 10-up. (Mar.)