Reading Level: Ages 6 – 12
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
Did you ever wonder how dogs came to be man’s best friend? I’m sure that there is some historical explanation, although it may be shrouded in the mists of prehistoric times. But in your mind’s eye think back to those times and just imagine for a minute that there is a planet far out in space on the other side of the sun that is inhabited by intelligent dogs that live in peace and happiness. As the book opens, the dogs learn that there is trouble on Earth. Bik, the greedy leader of the warlike Stone tribe of Stone City, is planning to invade and conquer the peaceful people of Lake Village and surrounding Green Valley. Therefore, the dogs bring Daisy and Bean, the daughter and the son of a farm family in Green Valley, to the Planet of the Dogs and explain the situation to them.
Since no dogs have ever been on Earth before, three dogs, Lucy, Robbie, and Buddy, are sent by their queen, Miss Merrie, to go back to Earth with the children to convince the people of Green Valley that dogs can help them. At first some of the people are afraid of the new animals, but as the dogs assist people in protecting their livestock from bears, providing companionship for the lonely, and even finding lost children, most everyone finally agrees that the dogs are good. But when the Stone tribe comes, can the dogs do anything to help defend Green Valley, and if so, will it work?
Author Robert J. McCarty has created a charming fantasy-allegory that can be read and understood on at least two different levels. Children will enjoy the story about dogs that come from another planet to help people on earth. But under the surface are the important messages of friendship, love, loyalty, and overcoming evil with good. Stella Mustanoja McCarty’s black-and-white shaded drawings are delightful companions to the text. Two sequels are now available, Castle in the Mist and Snow Valley Heroes: A Christmas Tale. The publisher, Barking Planet Productions, supports therapy dog reading programs across the country with book donations. Both old and young, especially dog lovers, will find Planet of the Dogs an enchanting tale.
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