Reading/Interest Level: Primary
Author: Tina Nolan
Publisher: Tiger Tales
Ella and Caleb have always wanted a dog, but their parents have strict rules about adopting patients at their animal center. When a border collie and her puppies are brought in for their shots, Ella is immediately smitten with the most rambunctious pup of the litter, Holly. The pups are already sold and are awaiting placement with their adoptive families, but when Ella meets Holly’s new owners, she is very concerned that they might not be a suitable family. As Christmas rolls around, Ella is surprised to find Holly abandoned on her porch with kennel cough. When Ella investigates further she finds that Holly is not the only dog in danger. As the adoptive family realizes their mistakes, Ella gets the joy of a lifetime: a puppy for Christmas.
The characters in this book are well developed and the illustrations are inviting and descriptive. However, the overall plot construction and context of the characters casts a family as the villains when they really may not be that bad. Even though her parents are against adopting animals and the puppy is claimed, Ella is constantly judging Holly’s new owners, even before meeting them. After the abandonment, when the adoptive family is confronted about their neglect, Ella’s parents convince the family to give up the animals for adoption, instead of providing support and counsel. The ending is a bit too one-sided as Ella celebrates her new puppy but has no concern over the family who just gave up their own family pets. It is a disappointment that the book leaves the reader seeing the adoptive family as the bad guys, especially when it seems there was little effort made to help them learn from their mistakes.