Editor's note: “Major: A Soldier Dog” is a finalist in the Children’s Book category of the 2020 High Plains Book Awards.
World War II has erupted, and American soldiers need help. Who better to answer the call than man’s best friend? A finalist for the High Plains Book Awards Children’s Book category, “Major: A Soldier Dog” provides the answer.
Written from the view of Major, author Trevor Jones begins the tale of boy and dog on a North Dakota farm. Sid smells like soap, dirt, and syrup, and even as a puppy, Major knows he’s loved. Then the scent of fear fills the air.
Soon Major finds himself on his way to a new destination. Once he arrives, he sees other dogs. Lots of them. He also meets Zeke, who smells like bacon and wool. Zeke teaches him new skills, and Major earns treats.
Eventually, the two cross the ocean to experience more adventures. Long walks, big noises, and the scent of fear comprise most days. The faithful canine saves Zeke and others from ambushes more than once. As the war drags on, both dog and man become weary. One day, Major hears happy voices. The war is over! Zeke and Major get to go home.
Still, Major’s training doesn’t end. He meets Carol, who teaches him new skills. Finally, he gets on a train and travels back to a farm in North Dakota where Sid waits. A lot of time has passed. The question everyone wants answered—Will Major remember his boyhood friend?
Delightful and engaging, “Major: A Soldier Dog” is based on the true story of a beloved pet whose family enlists him when America puts out the call for soldier dogs. Jones does a great job of helping readers understand the events from Major’s eyes, ears, and especially his nose. He also includes a brief history of war dogs and their trainers.
Ming Hai’s illustrations paint a realistic picture of life from a dog’s view during the war. Be sure to read to the very end for special photos and information about Major.
Penelope Kaye is the award-winning author of “Making Crooked Places Straight.”
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