Friday, May 6, 2016
Finder, Coal Mine Dog
by Alison Hart; illus. by Michael G. Montgomery
160 pages; ages 7 - 10
Peachtree Publishers, 2015
This is the third of the "Dog Chronicles" and another great tale told by the tail-wagging protagonist. Yes, as with the others in this series (Darling, and Murphy) the story is told in first-person from the point of view of the dog.
"My nose twitches. I am on the scent of rabbit on the brush and quail in the tall grass. The rabbit trail winds into a mound of thorns. When I poke my head underneath the branches, the perfume of ripe blackberries makes me drool."
Alison Hart creates a universe in which it makes total sense for a dog to be telling a story. But what makes it really cool is that this story is grounded in fact. In history. In a real town (Cherry) in Illinois.
The dog's boy is Thomas. Finder and Thomas live with Uncle Eddy, who hasn't the time nor money to house a dog that doesn't work. Despite his name, Finder isn't very good at flushing out game.
Finder gets lonely when Thomas is sent to work in the coal mine. But - tailwagging joy!- one day Thomas comes home with an idea: Finder can work with him in the mine. Pulling a wagon full of coal through a cramped tunnel way below the surface of the earth is hard work.... but Finder can do it. And when a mine fire breaks out, he discovers he can do even more. This is a tale of historic adventure - and I don't want to spoil the ending for you, but I will say that Finder lives up to his name.
What I especially like about this book and the others in the "Dog Chronicles" is the back matter. Hart tells about the Cherry Mine disaster that inspired this story, and about the animals that lived and worked in the mine with the miners. Hart also introduces us to a modern day mine rescue dog, Ginny. Ginny is the first dog specially trained for underground and surface mine rescue. You can lean more about her in this short video.
Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday round-up. Check out more great reading here. Review copy from publisher.