Mountain Dog by Margarita Engle
Free verse is the best way to tell this story. Tony is sent to live with his uncle; his mother is in prison for her part in a dog-fighting system. Moving from Los Angeles to high in the Sierra Nevada mountains is quite an adjustment for Tony. Every Sunday, Tony and Uncle Tio go to Cowboy Church where all dogs and horses are welcomed. Tony adjusts with the help of his uncle and his search-and-rescue dog. The chapters alternate between "Tony the boy" and "Gabe the dog". The patient and insightful Uncle Tio guides Tony through his rough times. It takes time for Tony to heal his dislike for math. He associates numbers with pit bull fighting. Tony has to take time to figure out his mother's behavior and her own history of immigration. Tony is a quick learner; he even hides for a search-and-rescue team. So many interesting facts about science and nature make this book extra special. Tony is the one who is searching and he certainly is being rescued.
2016 Rebecca Caudill Nominee