Thursday, July 07, 2022

Rip to the Rescue

Halahmy, Miriam. Rip to the Rescue
July 21st 2020 by Holiday House
Public library copy

Jack lives on the North side of London during World War II with his father, who lost a leg in the Great War, and his mother. Because his father is irascible to the point of being abusive, Jack spends a lot of time with his grandfather, who is starting to exhibit signs of dementia. He has also lied about his age and is working as a bike messenger to help with dispatches from the fire department and air raid wardens, since phone communication is often knocked out after a raid. He hasn't told his parents, and keeps his gear at his grandfather's. When he is injured on one errand, he is helped by Paula, whose father is a doctor. She makes sure that Jack gets stitched up, and helps him home. She hasn't been evacuated because her mother wants her close ever since her older brother was killed in the war. Paula has a younger sister, who has connections to a band of young thieves roaming the city. Paula's family is Jewish, and have a German aunt living with them who is fearful that should England be invaded, the family could be at risk. Jack finds a dog that they call Rip, who seems to have an uncanny ability to find people trapped in the rubble. Jack helps to rescue a young baby, and is determined to keep working despite the difficulties, since there is no school because of the disruption the war has caused. After a particularly horrible event with his father, he moves in with his gradnfather, whose mental state is rapidly deteriorating. Will Rip help Jack save others, and maybe save him as well?
Strengths: I have a huge need for books about World War II, and there's a subset of my readers who crave dog stories set during military conflicts, like Sutter's Soldier Dogs, Calkhoven's G.I. Dogs, and London's Dog Tags. For a fairly short book, this packed a real punch, and had some gruesome moments, like the fact that the father had Jack's cats put down when Jack was temporarily evacuated. The role of children in the city when bombs were being dropped, the damage to buildings, and the time people had to spend in air raid shelters is all vividly described and will speak to young readers who may be curious as to what is going on in Ukraine in 2022. Jack is a great character who perseveres in the face of adversity, and Paula is a great friend to him. 
Weaknesses: There's not as much about Rip in this as I would have liked. If I hadn't been expecting more of a dog story, this would have been fine. 
What I really think: Definitely purchasing, and know just the reader who will get this first in August!

Ms. Yingling

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