by McCall Hoyle (Author) Kevin Keele (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 4th − 5th Grade

From the author of Stella--nominated for fourteen Best Book of the Year state awards--this heartwarming story is about a street dog named Millie and a young girl who are both dealing with abandonment issues and must give trust and belonging a second chance.

Millie is a feisty border terrier who lives on the streets and has a keen sense for finding scraps of food, usually in the shadows or the cover of darkness. She protects herself with a shield of what is perceived by many as aggression--barking and snarling--when in reality, she is just plain scared.

Turned over to animal control after a recent run-in with the dogcatcher, Millie is rescued by a special teacher who also rehabilitates and rehomes dogs. It's a win-win. Together the dogs and Ms. Berry's students learn emotional resilience, anger management, and other coping skills.

When one of the students, a struggling reader named Tori, shows a natural gift for dog training and working with fearful dogs, Millie is temporarily placed in her care. Tori may be young, but she knows a thing or two about anger, fear, and abandonment after her mother can no longer care for her and she is placed in kinship care with her grandfather. Millie wonders if she's finally found her human and begins to let down her emotional guard. But when trust and belonging are challenged, Millie reverts to old habits--fleeing, hiding, and growling. Will she end up back on the streets? Or can Millie and Tori embrace their training, trust in each other, and find a forever home together?

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McCall Hoyle
McCall Hoyle is an award-winning author and teacher librarian. She writes heartfelt books for kids of all ages and believes one of the best ways to spread hope is by writing about the special bond between dogs and their humans. When McCall isn't writing or teaching, you can find her training one of her four-legged friends for agility, obedience, or dock diving in the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains she calls home.

You can learn more about her at or visit her on Twitter @McCallHoyle or on Facebook or Instagram @McCallHoyleBooks.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Shadow Mountain
Publication date
March 05, 2024
Best Friends Dog Tales
BISAC categories
JUV039050 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Emotions & Feelings
JUV002070 - Juvenile Fiction | Animals | Dogs
Library of Congress categories
Human-animal relationships
Animal fiction
Emotional support animals

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