Caleb Zane Huett

Book - 2021

Buster's a therapy dog who needs to take matters into his own paws to help a boy understand his own anxiety . . . even if it means breaking a few rules. Buster's in big trouble. He's been dragged to Dog Court for breaking one of the most sacred of all dog rules: Never, ever talk to a human, or let a human know how smart you really are. But he swears he had a good reason! The boy he's been taking care of, Tonio, needed his help in a big way. You see, Tonio is afraid all the time - afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing, afraid of making a fool of himself or (even worse) hurting someone else's feelings. His doctor thinks having a therapy dog will help his anxiety - and Buster wants to help. He really wants to help.... Even if it means breaking the rules. . . .

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Animal fiction
New York : Scholastic Press [2021]
Main Author
Caleb Zane Huett (author)
First edition
Physical Description
302 pages ; 22 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 4--6--When we first meet Buster, he is being tried in Dog Court for the crime of revealing his true intelligence to humans. As a service dog for Tonino, a young boy with an anxiety disorder, Buster couldn't help but use his full skills to support his person. Huett's clever premise, smooth worldbuilding, and quick pacing will engage young readers. Most notable, though, is his thoughtful depiction of anxiety, which will help kids understand themselves or their peers who may struggle with intrusive thoughts, panic attacks, or other mental health challenges. Tonino grows over the course of the book as he begins to understand that he can implement strategies to feel better but will likely never be "cured." VERDICT A fun caper for dog lovers with a more serious depiction of anxiety disorder woven in. Strongly recommended as a first purchase.--Gesse Stark-Smith, Multnomah County Lib., Portland, OR

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

Buster Pulaski has committed the worst of all dog crimes, and now he must defend his actions in Dog Court and face grave consequences. Dogs are strictly forbidden from revealing to humans their true intelligence, which is extremely high, under any circumstances. Buster, a mutt of unknown origins, knows this--he's been in court before--but will also do anything to help Tonio, his new master, work through his anxiety disorder to gain self-confidence and make new friends. Buster deftly explains the phenomenon of anxiety to a group of dogs by using the comparison, "Anxiety is like if you smelled a cat, all the time, even if there had never been a cat anywhere near you. Your brain would always be yelling, Cat! Cat! Cat! Even though you knew there wasn't one around." Plenty of comic relief in the form of dog humor and puns (the dogs surf the Bark Web on computers, for instance) balances the heaviness of a tween grappling with paralyzing anxiety and struggling to fit in. Some young readers will recognize their own anxiety being portrayed while others will gain a better understanding of their anxious peers through this sensitive and amusingly written story. Tonio is assumed White; there is some diversity in the supporting cast. A good dog with a good story. (Fiction. 8-12) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.