A Winter's Tale: Trouper by Meg Kearney
BACK IN THE BEFORE TIME
BEFORE I LICKED YOUR NOSE,
BEFORE YOU BOUGHT MY BED AND BOWL,
I RAN WITH A MOB OF MUTTS.
Trouper's hardscrabble pack of strays lives on the streets, scavenging from dumpsters, sometimes fed by a handout from kindly passersby, sometimes stoned by hard knock gangs of boys, "who thought the world was mean so they had to be."
Then the pack is lured by bits of steak into approaching a strange-looking truck. Hunter, Digger, Tugger, Dice, Big Bear, Sweet Girl, Curley, Boo, and Trouper are captured, caged, and taken to a large building full of the smell of strange dogs and echoing barks.
Trouper is comforted by the nearness of the others of his mob, but one by one, strangers walk among the cages, choose one, and leave with one, until the last of his group, Boo, is taken. Trouper has always had the others, no matter what. Now he is alone.
MY HEART WAS COLD,
THAT STARLESS NIGHT
UNTIL YOUR FACE
SHOWN THROUGH THE BARS.
A skinny boy comes along and reaches, unafraid, through the bars to pet him gently, and the two know that they are meant to be together. Trouper goes home, to his own bed and a full bowl of food.
And after lunch the two head outside into the snowy yard for a game called "RUN!"
AND LEAVE FIVE FOOTPRINTS IN THE SNOW.
In her latest, Trouper (Scholastic, 2013), Meg Kearney tells an appealing rescue dog story, based on the story of her own shelter dog, but saves a telling detail for the last page, the one that explains why Trouper was the last dog to be adopted--he has only three legs. The powerful realistic illustrations of peerless award-winning artist E. B. Lewis (for Coming on Home Soon (Caldecott Honor Book)) evoke the full range of emotion suggested in Kerney's narrative in his inimitable way. As Kirkus Reviews says, "Sure to tug the heartstrings, this is a lovely and satisfying tale."