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REZ DOGS by Joseph Bruchac Kirkus Star


by Joseph Bruchac

Pub Date: June 8th, 2021
ISBN: 978-0-593-32621-3
Publisher: Dial Books

When a Penacook girl and her grandparents must shelter in place at the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, a large dog mysteriously appears to protect them.

Malian’s winter stay with her grandparents is extended when everything is locked down. A big dog with two white spots over his eyes shows up at their house on the reservation. “Four-eyed dog,” her grandmother calls him. They name him Malsum, meaning “wolf,” and he makes himself at home. “When a dog like / that just appears / and chooses you, / it’s not your decision.” Although Malian misses her parents in Boston and online classes are difficult due to the poor internet connection, her grandparents entertain her with stories. She finds that even when she’s hearing one again, there’s “always / something in that story / that was more.” Her grandfather tells her “that all the old stories / are so alive / that even when you hear / one of them again, / that story may decide / to show you / something new.” Bruchac (Abenaki) tenderly braids traditional Wabanaki stories and, via Malian’s family history, stories of atrocities visited on Native nations into Malian’s lockdown experience. As early spring turns to summer and Malsum makes himself part of the family, she turns these stories into a school presentation, a process that helps her realize that, like her grandparents and the big dog, she’s “a rez dog too.”

Hidden throughout this moving novel in verse, old stories are discovered like buried treasures.

(Verse fiction. 8-12)