Eleven-year-old Marty Preston lives “high up in the hills above” Friendly, West Virgina. One day after supper, Marty goes on a walk and finds a stray beagle who he can tell has been abused. The dog acts afraid and Marty thinks, “something really hurts inside you when you see a dog cringe like that. You know somebody’s been kicking at him. Beating on him, maybe” (Naylor, 2000, p.4). Marty takes the dog home and names him Shiloh. However, he later discovers that Shiloh belongs to Judd Travers, a man prone to drinking and abusing his hunting dogs. Marty’s family believes the dog should be returned to its rightful owner, but Marty, afraid for Shiloh, keeps the dog and hides it from his family.
I was a huge fan of Phyllis Reynolds Naylor when I was younger (I loved her Alice series!), but I had never read Shiloh until now. I loved it! Shiloh is beautifully written and the West Virginia dialect is really fun to read. The book is centered around the ethical dilemma Marty faces: to do what his parents believe is right and return Shiloh to his rightful, though abusive owner, or to do what he thinks is right and save Shiloh from a terrible situation. In the end, Marty comes to realize that adults don’t always do the right thing, but that he has the strength to fight for what is right.
Genre: contemporary realistic
Reading/interest level: ages 8 to 12
ALA Notable Books
IRA Young Adult Choices
IRA Teachers’ Choice
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