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Rez Dogs

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Hardcover
$17.99 US
5.75"W x 8.5"H x 0.66"D  
On sale Jun 08, 2021 | 192 Pages | 9780593326213
Grades 3-7
Reading Level: Lexile 830L
Renowned author Joseph Bruchac tells a powerful story of a girl who learns more about her Penacook heritage while sheltering in place with her grandparents during the coronavirus pandemic.

Malian loves spending time with her grandparents at their home on a Wabanaki reservation—she’s there for a visit when, suddenly, all travel shuts down. There’s a new virus making people sick, and Malian will have to stay with her grandparents for the duration.
Everyone is worried about the pandemic, but Malian knows how to keep her family safe: She protects her grandparents, and they protect her. She doesn’t go out to play with friends, she helps her grandparents use video chat, and she listens to and learns from their stories. And when Malsum, one of the dogs living on the rez, shows up at their door, Malian’s family knows that he’ll protect them too.
Told in verse inspired by oral storytelling, this novel about the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the ways in which Indigenous nations and communities cared for one another through plagues of the past, and how they keep caring for one another today.

**Four starred reviews!**
Boston Globe-Horn Book Fiction & Poetry Honor
NPR Books We Love
Kirkus Reviews Best Books
School Library Journal Best Books
Chicago Public Library Best Fiction for Younger Readers
Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Finalist
Nerdy Book Club Award—Best Poetry and Novels in Verse
Joseph Bruchac is a highly acclaimed children’s book author, poet, novelist, and storyteller, as well as a scholar of Native American culture. He is the coauthor of the bestselling Keepers of the Earth series with Michael Caduto. Bruchac's poems, articles, and stories have appeared in hundreds of publications from Akwesasne Notes and American Poetry Review to National Geographic and Parabola. He has authored many books for adults and children including Code Talker: A Novel about the Navajo Marines of World War Two, Skeleton Man, and The Heart of a Chief. View titles by Joseph Bruchac

chapter one

malsum

 

When Malian woke up 

and looked out her window, 

the dog was there. 

Just as she had 

dreamed it would be.

 

It was lying on the driveway 

halfway between 

their small house and the road.

 

It wasn’t sleeping, 

its head was up, 

its ears erect, 

its paws in front of it 

as if on guard.

As Malian watched, 

the dog turned its head

to look right at her, 

as if it knew her, 

as if it had known her 

for a long, long time.

 

“Malsum,” she said. 

“Kwai, kwai, nidoba.”

Hello, hello, my friend.

 

The big dog nodded 

and then turned back 

to continue watching the road.

 

Malsum. That was 

the old name for a wolf. 

It was a good one for that dog. 

It was as big as a wolf.

It looked like the videos

of wolves she’d watched 

on her phone.

The only things different 

about it were the white spots 

over each of its eyes.

 

“Four-eyed dog,” 

a soft voice said 

from back over her shoulder.

 

It was Grandma Frances. 

Malian had not 

heard her come up behind.

She was used to that. 

Both her grandparents 

could walk so softly

that she never knew

they were there 

until they spoke.

 

Grandma Frances 

would tease her about it. 

“Be careful, granddaughter, 

you don’t want 

to let no Indian 

sneak up on you.” 

Grandma Frances 

put her hand 

on Malian’s shoulder. 

“Looks to me

like he thinks 

he belongs here,” she said. 

Then she chuckled. 

“Or maybe like 

he thinks he 

owns this place.”

 

“Would that be okay?” 

Malian said.

 

Grandma Frances 

chuckled again. 

“It seems to me 

it’s not up to us.

When a dog like 

that just appears 

and chooses you, 

it’s not your decision.” 

 

“Can I go outside and see

what he does?” Malian said.

“Let’s ask your grampa. 

Roy, get in here.” 

 

But Grampa Roy 

was already there. 

“I’ve been listening

to every word. 

Seems to me 

if you step outside

and then move real slow 

whilst you watch what he does 

you’ll be okay. 

But just in case,

I’ll be right behind you.”

Malian shook her head. 

“Remember what they said? 

You and Grandma 

should not go outside. 

It’s too dangerous— 

you might get that virus.

That’s why I can’t

go home to Mom and Dad.” 

“And we’re goldarn lucky 

you’re here with us,” 

Grampa Roy said. 

“That old saying about 

how we don’t know 

what we’d do without you 

sure makes sense these days. 

So I’ll stay inside—

but you stay in, too.

Just open the door 

and we’ll see what he does.”

Malian cracked open the door. 

The dog stood up 

and turned her way. 

He opened his mouth, 

let his tongue hang out 

in what she knew 

had to be a smile. 

 

She held out her wrist. 

“Malsum!” she called,

her voice soft but sure.

 

The big dog walked over 

and sniffed her hand. 

 

“Malsum,” she said again,

dropping down to one knee

as she placed her hand

on his broad head. 

 

The dog looked at her,

straight into her eyes.

As he held her gaze

he seemed to Malian

that she could see

intelligence and 

even a hint of humor

and a kind of certainty.

 

Malsum nodded his head

as if to say, Yes

that can be my name.

I am here for you.

Then he licked her fingers 

before turning around 

and going back,

heavy muscles rippling

beneath his skin, 

to drop himself down 

where he had been.

“Guess he is 

guarding us, for sure,” 

Grampa Roy said. 

“Looks like you got

a new friend.”

Discussion Guide for Rez Dogs

Provides questions, discussion topics, suggested reading lists, introductions and/or author Q&As, which are intended to enhance reading groups’ experiences.

(Please note: the guide displayed here is the most recently uploaded version; while unlikely, any page citation discrepancies between the guide and book is likely due to pagination differences between a book’s different formats.)

  • SELECTION
    Arkansas Charlie May Simon Award
  • SELECTION
    Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Award
  • SELECTION
    New Jersey Garden State Children's Book Award
  • SELECTION
    North Carolina Children's Book Award
  • SELECTION
    Nebraska Golden Sower Award
  • SELECTION
    Rhode Island Children's Book Award
  • HONOR
    Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book
  • AWARD
    NCTE Notable Children's Trade Books in the Language Arts
  • SELECTION
    M. Jerry Weiss Award - Upper Middle-Grade Novel
  • SELECTION
    Iowa Children's Choice Award
  • SELECTION
    NCSS-CBC Notable Children's Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies
  • SELECTION | 2021
    Kirkus Reviews Best Children's Books
  • SELECTION | 2021
    Chicago Public Library Best Books
  • FINALIST | 2021
    Jane Addams Children's Book Award
  • SELECTION | 2021
    School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
Awards and Praise for Rez Dogs

Boston Globe-Horn Book Fiction & Poetry Honor
NPR Books We Love
Kirkus Reviews Best Books
School Library Journal Best Books 
Chicago Public Library Best Fiction for Younger Readers 
Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Finalist
Nerdy Book Club Award—Best Poetry and Novels in Verse
NCTE/CLA Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts Award

NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books
Iowa Children's Choice Award
Nebraska's Golden Sower Book Award
North Carolina Junior Book Award 
Wisconsin's Just One More Page! Reading List
Pennsylvania's Young Readers Choice Award
Rhode Island Middle School Book Award
Arkansas' Charlie May Simon Book Award
New Mexico's Battle of the Books List
New Jersey's M. Jerry Weiss Award
Garden State Children's Book Award
Pacific North West Young Reader's Choice Award Nominee

★ “Hidden throughout this moving novel in verse, old stories are discovered like buried treasures.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

★ “Bruchac intricately interweaves past and present stories . . . in this rewarding intergenerational narrative.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

★ "Deftly handles weighty issues and provides readers a story they can connect with . . . [A] dose of hope for the future."—School Library Journal, starred review

★ “Story telling is an important part of culture, and Bruchac is a masterful storyteller who weaves culture with narrative."—School Library Connection, starred review

“With this gentle book, Bruchac offers children another story to expand their worlds and hearts.”—Booklist

“A gentle book about family and history.”—Betsy Bird for A Fuse #8 Production/SLJ

About

Renowned author Joseph Bruchac tells a powerful story of a girl who learns more about her Penacook heritage while sheltering in place with her grandparents during the coronavirus pandemic.

Malian loves spending time with her grandparents at their home on a Wabanaki reservation—she’s there for a visit when, suddenly, all travel shuts down. There’s a new virus making people sick, and Malian will have to stay with her grandparents for the duration.
Everyone is worried about the pandemic, but Malian knows how to keep her family safe: She protects her grandparents, and they protect her. She doesn’t go out to play with friends, she helps her grandparents use video chat, and she listens to and learns from their stories. And when Malsum, one of the dogs living on the rez, shows up at their door, Malian’s family knows that he’ll protect them too.
Told in verse inspired by oral storytelling, this novel about the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the ways in which Indigenous nations and communities cared for one another through plagues of the past, and how they keep caring for one another today.

**Four starred reviews!**
Boston Globe-Horn Book Fiction & Poetry Honor
NPR Books We Love
Kirkus Reviews Best Books
School Library Journal Best Books
Chicago Public Library Best Fiction for Younger Readers
Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Finalist
Nerdy Book Club Award—Best Poetry and Novels in Verse

Author

Joseph Bruchac is a highly acclaimed children’s book author, poet, novelist, and storyteller, as well as a scholar of Native American culture. He is the coauthor of the bestselling Keepers of the Earth series with Michael Caduto. Bruchac's poems, articles, and stories have appeared in hundreds of publications from Akwesasne Notes and American Poetry Review to National Geographic and Parabola. He has authored many books for adults and children including Code Talker: A Novel about the Navajo Marines of World War Two, Skeleton Man, and The Heart of a Chief. View titles by Joseph Bruchac

Excerpt

chapter one

malsum

 

When Malian woke up 

and looked out her window, 

the dog was there. 

Just as she had 

dreamed it would be.

 

It was lying on the driveway 

halfway between 

their small house and the road.

 

It wasn’t sleeping, 

its head was up, 

its ears erect, 

its paws in front of it 

as if on guard.

As Malian watched, 

the dog turned its head

to look right at her, 

as if it knew her, 

as if it had known her 

for a long, long time.

 

“Malsum,” she said. 

“Kwai, kwai, nidoba.”

Hello, hello, my friend.

 

The big dog nodded 

and then turned back 

to continue watching the road.

 

Malsum. That was 

the old name for a wolf. 

It was a good one for that dog. 

It was as big as a wolf.

It looked like the videos

of wolves she’d watched 

on her phone.

The only things different 

about it were the white spots 

over each of its eyes.

 

“Four-eyed dog,” 

a soft voice said 

from back over her shoulder.

 

It was Grandma Frances. 

Malian had not 

heard her come up behind.

She was used to that. 

Both her grandparents 

could walk so softly

that she never knew

they were there 

until they spoke.

 

Grandma Frances 

would tease her about it. 

“Be careful, granddaughter, 

you don’t want 

to let no Indian 

sneak up on you.” 

Grandma Frances 

put her hand 

on Malian’s shoulder. 

“Looks to me

like he thinks 

he belongs here,” she said. 

Then she chuckled. 

“Or maybe like 

he thinks he 

owns this place.”

 

“Would that be okay?” 

Malian said.

 

Grandma Frances 

chuckled again. 

“It seems to me 

it’s not up to us.

When a dog like 

that just appears 

and chooses you, 

it’s not your decision.” 

 

“Can I go outside and see

what he does?” Malian said.

“Let’s ask your grampa. 

Roy, get in here.” 

 

But Grampa Roy 

was already there. 

“I’ve been listening

to every word. 

Seems to me 

if you step outside

and then move real slow 

whilst you watch what he does 

you’ll be okay. 

But just in case,

I’ll be right behind you.”

Malian shook her head. 

“Remember what they said? 

You and Grandma 

should not go outside. 

It’s too dangerous— 

you might get that virus.

That’s why I can’t

go home to Mom and Dad.” 

“And we’re goldarn lucky 

you’re here with us,” 

Grampa Roy said. 

“That old saying about 

how we don’t know 

what we’d do without you 

sure makes sense these days. 

So I’ll stay inside—

but you stay in, too.

Just open the door 

and we’ll see what he does.”

Malian cracked open the door. 

The dog stood up 

and turned her way. 

He opened his mouth, 

let his tongue hang out 

in what she knew 

had to be a smile. 

 

She held out her wrist. 

“Malsum!” she called,

her voice soft but sure.

 

The big dog walked over 

and sniffed her hand. 

 

“Malsum,” she said again,

dropping down to one knee

as she placed her hand

on his broad head. 

 

The dog looked at her,

straight into her eyes.

As he held her gaze

he seemed to Malian

that she could see

intelligence and 

even a hint of humor

and a kind of certainty.

 

Malsum nodded his head

as if to say, Yes

that can be my name.

I am here for you.

Then he licked her fingers 

before turning around 

and going back,

heavy muscles rippling

beneath his skin, 

to drop himself down 

where he had been.

“Guess he is 

guarding us, for sure,” 

Grampa Roy said. 

“Looks like you got

a new friend.”

Guides

Discussion Guide for Rez Dogs

Provides questions, discussion topics, suggested reading lists, introductions and/or author Q&As, which are intended to enhance reading groups’ experiences.

(Please note: the guide displayed here is the most recently uploaded version; while unlikely, any page citation discrepancies between the guide and book is likely due to pagination differences between a book’s different formats.)

Awards

  • SELECTION
    Arkansas Charlie May Simon Award
  • SELECTION
    Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Award
  • SELECTION
    New Jersey Garden State Children's Book Award
  • SELECTION
    North Carolina Children's Book Award
  • SELECTION
    Nebraska Golden Sower Award
  • SELECTION
    Rhode Island Children's Book Award
  • HONOR
    Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book
  • AWARD
    NCTE Notable Children's Trade Books in the Language Arts
  • SELECTION
    M. Jerry Weiss Award - Upper Middle-Grade Novel
  • SELECTION
    Iowa Children's Choice Award
  • SELECTION
    NCSS-CBC Notable Children's Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies
  • SELECTION | 2021
    Kirkus Reviews Best Children's Books
  • SELECTION | 2021
    Chicago Public Library Best Books
  • FINALIST | 2021
    Jane Addams Children's Book Award
  • SELECTION | 2021
    School Library Journal Best Book of the Year

Praise

Awards and Praise for Rez Dogs

Boston Globe-Horn Book Fiction & Poetry Honor
NPR Books We Love
Kirkus Reviews Best Books
School Library Journal Best Books 
Chicago Public Library Best Fiction for Younger Readers 
Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Finalist
Nerdy Book Club Award—Best Poetry and Novels in Verse
NCTE/CLA Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts Award

NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books
Iowa Children's Choice Award
Nebraska's Golden Sower Book Award
North Carolina Junior Book Award 
Wisconsin's Just One More Page! Reading List
Pennsylvania's Young Readers Choice Award
Rhode Island Middle School Book Award
Arkansas' Charlie May Simon Book Award
New Mexico's Battle of the Books List
New Jersey's M. Jerry Weiss Award
Garden State Children's Book Award
Pacific North West Young Reader's Choice Award Nominee

★ “Hidden throughout this moving novel in verse, old stories are discovered like buried treasures.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

★ “Bruchac intricately interweaves past and present stories . . . in this rewarding intergenerational narrative.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

★ "Deftly handles weighty issues and provides readers a story they can connect with . . . [A] dose of hope for the future."—School Library Journal, starred review

★ “Story telling is an important part of culture, and Bruchac is a masterful storyteller who weaves culture with narrative."—School Library Connection, starred review

“With this gentle book, Bruchac offers children another story to expand their worlds and hearts.”—Booklist

“A gentle book about family and history.”—Betsy Bird for A Fuse #8 Production/SLJ

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