Published by Katherine Tegen Books
Summary: Piper’s family has fallen on tough times and winds up in the family shelter of a new city. While exploring a nearby park one day, Piper meets Jewel, a homeless woman with an adorable dog named Baby. When Jewel winds up in the hospital with pneumonia, Baby is left behind to fend for himself. Piper and her new friends from the Firefly Girls troop team up with other park residents to figure out who Jewel is, how she wound up in her current situation, and how they can help her and Baby find a new home. Told in alternate voices, the story switches between Piper’s first-person narrative and Baby’s free verse perspective, with occasional chapters offering the point of view of Jewel and other characters. 304 pages; grades 3-7.
Pros: Readers will be drawn in by the adorable little dog on the cover, and will find an inspiring and engaging story that spotlights the tenacious love between humans and animals. Piper and her friends work together to bring about a feel-good ending.
Cons: As a former Girl Scout leader (I’m not sure why the author felt she had to disguise the Girl Scouts as Firefly Girls), I found the fifth-grade girls’ discipline, maturity, and initiative pretty unrealistic.