Author: Bauer, Marion Dane
Since as far back as Ben can remember, it's been him, his devoted dad, and Sunshine-Ben's little dog, who rarely leaves Ben's side. It was Mom who did the leaving, and Ben's about to spend a whole week with his suddenly present mother in the wilds of northern Minnesota. Ben will learn to camp, canoe, weather the elements, and weigh a burning question: when will she come back to where she belongs?
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|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.00
Points: 4.0 Quiz: 511840
Kirkus Reviews (+) (04/15/21)
School Library Journal (04/01/21)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (00/06/21)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 04/01/2021 Gr 4–6—Ben, a young white boy, and his dog Sunshine are spending a week with Ben's mom in northern Minnesota. Exploring the lakes and islands of the region, Ben sees moose, white-tailed deer, and a blue heron. His mother left when Ben was three, and his plan is to bring her back home to St. Paul. Living on a remote island, in a cabin with no electricity, Ben's mom doesn't seem afraid of anything. But Ben is a "what-if'' kid; scared of heights, the dark, and getting lost. With Sunshine at his side, he can be brave. After Ben's mom discovers he has an imaginary dog, she explains, to Ben's delight, that Sunshine is his guardian spirit. However, when encountering bears, Ben calls out a warning to Sunshine, and endangers their lives. Now his mom suggests it's time to give up his pretend dog. Bauer keeps the reader wondering why Ben's mom left the family, creating a sensitive portrait of a woman victim to an abusive mother. That Ben is hiding his anger beneath a multitude of fears feels authentic, and his deep need for the adoring Sunshine will resonate for dog lovers. Descriptive passages of the islands and the trio's adventures in the Minnesota wilderness are sure to appeal to outdoorsy readers. But the central theme of the book, Ben's sense of loss and abandonment, informs every part of the narrative as he vacillates between trying to connect with his mother and the anger that's expressed in his shrugging off her touch. VERDICT A moving story about a boy and his dog and the solace a pet, real or imagined, can bring.—Sarah Webb, City and Country Sch. Lib., NY - Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.