11-Yr old Sydney has a problem named Fred. He’s a retired bomb sniffing dog that her wounded veteran dad brought home with him from the war. Dad suffers from PTSD and only talks to Fred. Sydney wished she was a dog so he would talk to her too, maybe help her deal with a school bully. When her wish is granted, she learns that sometimes a simple wish can get you into a lot of trouble.
Plot: The premise behind this touching middle grade story--a girl who turns into a dog in order to better connect with her PTSD-suffering father--is certainly compelling, with definite appeal to young readers. However, Reed's storyline would benefit from additional development leading up to her character's transformation.
Prose/Style: Reed writes in a basic (at times overly so) and humorous prose style that clearly conveys the unusual circumstances. Sydney's lively, frank narrative voice will appeal most strongly to younger middle grade readers who have ever wondered what their parents would do if they disappeared.
Originality: A child heroine seeking peace and solace for her troubled family is not a new concept, especially in middle grade and YA fiction, but the path that Sydney follows in order to arrive at a resolution (and the book's focus on a parent's PTSD) is fresh and unexpected.
Character Development: Sydney is a strong, well-rounded character with relatable emotional struggles, while others--notably, Fred--are equally endearing. Family members are realistically flawed and provide the story of a girl-turned-dog, with gravity.
Date Submitted: July 27, 2019