JavaScript must be enabled on your browser for this PAC to work properly.

San Marcos Public Library
625 E. Hopkins • San Marcos, TX 78666 • 512.393.8200  •  smpl@sanmarcostx.gov 
  New Search About the Library Library Events My Account Hot Titles Research Links News & Weather Local History Photographs Subscribe to BookLetters
 

Letters from Wolfie

by Patti Sherlock


Book Review

:

Publishers Weekly :

Terms of Use:

Dog lovers are the most obvious audience for Sherlock's (Some Fine Dog) hard-hitting Vietnam-era novel, which boasts a painting of a grinning German shepherd on its jacket—but they may also be put off by the premise. It's 1969, and 13-year-old Mark Cantrell has just seen his older brother, Danny, off to Vietnam. Shortly after Danny writes that the Army wants more German shepherds to train for use in combat, Mark offers up his own beloved shepherd, Wolfie. The author supplies various motivations for Mark's actions (pressure from his Army-loving father, loyalty to Danny, hopes of impressing girls at school), but the set-up isn't entirely convincing and makes it hard for readers to identify with Mark. It's a weak link in an otherwise strong novel. Belatedly Mark learns that he no longer has any claim on Wolfie ("When you donated your dog... it became property of the U.S. Army," an unsympathetic captain tells him). Mark is shaken, and news from the front, relayed in occasional letters from Danny and in letters written by Wolfie's soldier handler, slowly inclines him toward protest. Mark and Wolfie become a point of entry to the serious issues raised by the Vietnam War. Mark's parents adopt opposing views—the father stands behind his country no matter what, the mother wants to know exactly what her son's sacrifice is for—and Sherlock successfully casts both in a positive light, keeping each of them human and vulnerable. The inevitable tragic ending is well modulated, too. Ages 10-up.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

distributed by Syndetic Solutions, Inc.:

Book Review

:

School Library Journal :

Terms of Use:

Gr 5-9–In this top-notch novel, Sherlock weaves together numerous threads of emotion, information, and plot so seamlessly that readers will be surprised by how much they've learned by the time they finish this deceptively simple story. Mark, 13, overshadowed by his older brother who is serving in Vietnam, impulsively volunteers to send his beloved dog there to impress the adults who are so taken with Danny. Regretful but stuck, he goes through the paperwork, assuming Wolfie will come home after a year's tour. The animal is assigned to Tucker, a marginally literate young man who compassionately writes letters to Mark "from" the dog, while Mark begins the increasingly hopeless task of getting Wolfie back. Meanwhile, he develops a relationship with a girl who is against the war. Mark's mother comes into her own as she gets a job and, through correspondence, helps Tucker realize his potential as well. Clearly, Vietnam is a disillusioning experience for all, including Mark's gung-ho father, who never quite admits to doubts about the war, but befriends the dad of a draft dodger. Throughout the compelling narrative, youngsters not only watch Mark mature, but are also provided with a terrifying window into what is happening–politically, emotionally, and physically–to the soldiers. While all of the characters are well developed and dynamic, it is only wise neighbor Effie, who fled Germany during World War II, who looks upon the unfolding events with true understanding. This story will stay with readers long after the final page is turned.–Mary R. Hofmann, Rivera Middle School, Merced, CA

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

distributed by Syndetic Solutions, Inc.:

Back

 

Powered by: YouSeeMore © The Library Corporation (TLC) Catalog Home Top of Page