Synopsis: Barney gets separated from his family during the evacuation from Hurricane Katrina. He ends up lost and living on the beach, befriending some of the lost humans living there as well.
My Take: This is a sad story. It has a Lady and the Tramp feel, with a darker twist. There are some beautifully written lines that make me miss the ocean, such as "The wind blew softly across the water in the gulf, and he could smell the salt in the air as he watched the persistent pattern of waves splashing over the sandy shore."
But I had a hard time getting into the story. For one, it bounces around a lot. I know, we are getting the story from the perspective of a dog. However, I feel like the author could have done better managing the flow. As it is, this short read feels a bit repetitive. I would not read this story with my middle grader as it is a bit traumatizing. There is a Where the Red Fern Grows moment that really pulled me from the story because it went from sad to super dark real quick.
The layout also bugged me. The author typically writes nonfiction, and he kept a nonfiction layout. It felt strange. I also had a hard time with the way he displayed speech in italics, rather than quotes. I will give him points for consistency at least.
The last complaint was the grammar. Several times the word women was used, when it was intended to be woman. There were also several points of syntax error. When it comes to these things, I am a bit more demanding than the average reader. When it comes to writing geared toward youth, I find such errors unforgivable as it dumbs down our children.
To sum up: There is some beautiful imagery in the story, and I think if the author expanded the story, organized the flow, and brought the reading level up, it would be a great YA book, like Where the Red Fern Grows, but at it's current length and structure, I would not read it to my boys.