Sunday, May 15, 2011

Book Review for Buddy's Tail by K. Anna Russell

Buddy's Tail

Buddy’s Tail by K. Anne Russell
April 8, 2011
ISBN-10: 1456411950
ISBN-13: 978-145611954
178 Pages
Ages 9-12
Chapter Book Dogs

Buddy’s Tail is a dog story that shows the great connection and love that dogs and humans have for one another.

Buddy's Tail is narrated by Mackenzie, a border collie, who looks out for a few of her dog friends. Buddy happens to be one of them, he's a poodle. Buddy's life was once happy, until the girl that loved him moved away and went to college leaving him alone with her parents, who neglected him. They would forget to feed him and give him water, this is brutal when the dogs live in Yucca Dunes, a very hot and humid place. Mackenzie, and friends Javier and Derek, would often bring Buddy scraps of food to make sure he survived until Buddy's owners returned, who would leave him frequently. Mackenzie feels a real kinship with Buddy and hoped that he would one day find a great human who loved him, he certainly deserved it. Buddy's owners try to sell him many times to careless people, each time not working out where Buddy would have to return to worse conditions. Then one day he meets this person who comes and looks at his owner's house that was for sale. DeeDee was the one Buddy wanted to live with forever, but his owners refused her offer to take him. Eventually, Buddy did get his wish, but that came with a price.

With vengeance in her heart, Mackenzie chases down a hummer that at one time killed a dear friend of hers. Without listening to reason, Mackenzie becomes careless and the hummer becomes her own demise. Her soul is taken to Haven, separate than the human's Heaven, where she has to help other dog spirits find their way. Buddy's soul happens to be one of them when he dies of starvation, but a deal is made, with the help of Mackenzie, and he gets to return to Earth for a period of years to live in happiness with DeeDee to help her and other dogs.

In the meantime, Mackenzie has to accept that she has died and learn her new job well. When Buddy's soul eventually returns to Haven, he is sent on a few missions himself to help other dogs find their way and becomes one of the best guide dogs ever. But Buddy's love of humans never vanishes. He cares for them dearly. However, Haven has rules, and one of those rules is not to help humans. Dogs in Haven have free will and have no obligations to humans in death. Buddy breaks that rule a few times, helping a little girl with cancer and a military man in Afghanistan. What will happen when he is tried for breaking these rules?

For children who love dog stories, they will enjoy this 178-page chapter book. It shows the devotion that dogs have, not just for their owners, but for humans in general. Also talks about the mistreatment of animals in various ways. Many children will feel saddened and upset by this.

Readers will find the story, at times, confusing. There are many things going on between different characters. Each chapter skips back and forth between dogs and events where things are happening at the same time or when a period of time has passed and information is missed on how the animal led up to a certain point. It's like hopping into the middle of a conversation. When the reader gets sucked into a specific part of the story, gears are switched and the reader has to keep up with what every animal is doing. It doesn't flow smoothly until the end.

Though this is a minor quibble and can be frustrating because the reader can't ever really get sucked into the story thoroughly, it doesn't take away from the moral of the story which shows that Buddy is a hero in many ways, also rules are meant to be bent or broken, especially when we are trying to do good and help others when they are in need. When helping others, there are various shades of gray.


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