-The Real K-9 Cops!-
“‘We’re going to crash!’ he shouted. ‘We crashed!’ He panted for breath, wet with sweat where he’d been under the covers. Spencer whined and nudged him with his head.”
A New Leash on Life is the winding together of several stories: a workaholic widower and his two lonely kids, a crazy toy factory owner perfecting a new way to steal people’s money, and a human member of the K-9 Corps, who is killed in the line of duty and comes back as a dog. The dog/cop’s heavenly assignment is to bring the widow and his kids closer together, but what he really wants to do is find the people who killed him. It’s a roller coaster ride of intertwining lives, chases (both dog and car varieties), and even a little romance.
Author Erna Mueller’s depiction of Spencer, the dog-who-used-to-be-a-cop, is hilarious and oddly believable! Spencer brings enough of his old cop personality to his furry new body to make him crabby, bossy, and constantly on the search for coffee. Getting inside his head as his loner cop self struggles with the lovable dog part of him, who wants to be teenage outsider Justin’s best friend, makes you root for Spencer even though he’s sometimes incredibly annoying. And watching Spencer struggle against his dog instincts creates some of the most memorable scenes in the book…watch for him wandering into a cat show!
The adventure of Justin trying to figure out why the toy factory people are so interested in Spencer is fun enough to appeal to teen readers and complex enough that adults will want to “borrow” this book from their kids. The adult characters, with the exception of Spencer, are a bit bumbling, leaving all the excitement to the kids: Justin, his sister Vicki, and his girlfriend Shalha. Mueller’s portrayal of the teenagers is skilled. They’re brave, but not too brave. They argue, fly off the handle, do a lot of eye rolling. Very realistic. In my opinion this is the ideal book for the whole family to enjoy.
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