Review of Rez Dogs

Rez Dogs
by Joseph Bruchac
Intermediate, Middle School    Dial    192 pp.    g
6/21    978-0-593-32621-3    $16.99
e-book ed.  978-0-593-32623-7    $9.99

In this verse novel, Malian, a Penacook girl, is visiting her grandparents on the Penacook reservation when shelter-in-place orders are given due to COVID-19. Malian misses her parents and friends, but she spends time with a dog that has mysteriously appeared, and she enjoys listening to her grandparents’ retellings of traditional stories. They also tell her about some of the more difficult parts of their history that have affected their nation, such as boarding schools and forced sterilizations, all touched on by Bruchac (Peacemaker, rev. 7/21) in an accessible and age-appropriate way. Ultimately, Malian’s grandparents remind her that their people have survived pandemics before, through caring for one another. Young readers will be able to understand Malian’s situation, including technological struggles in connecting to her remote classroom. The book’s ending — in which Malian waits eagerly but with mixed emotions for her parents to pick her up — raises relatable questions of home, friendship, and belonging.

From the September/October 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Nicholl Denice Montgomery

Nicholl Denice Montgomery is currently working on a PhD at Boston College in the curriculum and instruction department. Previously, she worked as an English teacher with Boston Public Schools.

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