by Juliet Mofford
The Mail-Order Puppy is a chapter book for middle-school readers that takes place on the Home Front during the Second World War. Lucy Lindsay is a third grader who has a good reason for hating dogs. She is not pleased to learn that her thirteen-year old brother, John, has ordered a puppy from a magazine ad that he plans on training to pull him in his wheelchair. The dog is shipped by Railway Express as was common in the 1940s. The children’s parents happen to be out when the dog arrives and a finicky neighbor has been left in charge. Hardly the puppy John was expecting, the Irish setter proceeds to weave a path of destruction throughout the house.
This is a book for dog lovers and their families to enjoy together. The historical novel will speak to children with disabilities as well as anyone with siblings or friends who might be physically-challenged. Young readers who own or have ever wished for a dog will identify with the trials and tribulations faced by Lucy, her brother, and their parents. There is humor in these pages as daily life is turned upside-down by Captain’s mischief. The book demonstrates how each family member lends loving support to the boy in the wheelchair. Everyone works together to meet the challenges of training Captain, although the dog hardly endears himself to Lucy, especially after knocking her down in the snow and trampling her Victory Garden. John is disappointed in himself because he is unable to train Captain who may finally have to be sent to the animal shelter. Then one day Captain becomes a hero. When the dog is waiting for Lucy after school instead of her brother, she knows something has gone terribly wrong.
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