I read this book to our kids because it's a Newbery winner about dogs. Given their love of Darrel and Sally Odgers's Jack Russell books, and Patricia Finney's I, Jack books, I figured we'd give it a whirl.
Uncle Benny stole the show. Get rid of Rachel and Jerry (especially Jerry!) and triple the Uncle Benny dosage and my kids would love it even more.
One thing I couldn't figure out was how much of the narrator's poor narration was the result of Estes intentionally narrating in a child-like style (e.g.: with every mention of Sam Doody including an introduction to who he is), and how much was just the result of poor writing. One thing I could figure out was how irritating it was every time Estes used the word "waked." And use it she did, like a rented carpet steamer due back in an hour. I had grown up thinking the past tense of "to wake" is "woke," but Estes kept pushing "waked," several times per chapter.
The moral of the story seemed to be "kids, don't trust your low-income peers," which I'm not really sure I want my kids to learn. After all, I've made them their own low-income peers. But overall, my kids liked the book enough to demand we read the sequel, and I didn't hate it enough to object.
Rating: four out of seven giant inflatable monkeys.