Rez Dogs by Joseph Bruchac

Published by Dial Books

Rez Dogs: Bruchac, Joseph: 9780593326213: Amazon.com: Books

Summary:  Malian has been visiting her grandparents on a Wabanaki reservation when Covid hits, and she can’t go back home to Boston.  She loves her grandparents and the reservation, but sometimes gets bored, lonely, and frustrated by the spotty Wi-Fi.  When a rez dog appears one morning, Malian names him Malsum (meaning wolf), and welcomes his company.  Malsum never comes into the house, but his presence brings joy to Malian and her grandparents as they go about their daily lives.  In between school, gardening, cooking, and Star Trek episodes, Malian and her grandparents share stories: folklore, and tales of her grandfather’s time at an Indian boarding school, and how her mother was taken away from her parents and put into foster care as a child.  By the time summer comes and Malian can return to Boston, she has learned how much her Wabanaki heritage is a part of her.  While she’s sad to say goodbye to Malsum, she knows she’ll be back.  “Just like us, you’re a rez dog, too,” her grandmother tells her.  192 pages; grades 3-7.

Pros:  This timely novel-in-verse introduces readers to contemporary life on a reservation while beautifully weaving in folktales and indigenous history.  

Cons:  I am curious about the Wabanaki reservation; I am guessing it’s in Maine (or somewhere in New England), and I would have liked to have learned more about it, maybe in an author’s note.

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