Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

White Fur Flying

White Fur Flying

Patricia MacLachlan
For ages 6 to 8
Simon and Schuster, 2013   ISBN: 978-1442421714

Zoe’s home is full of laughter, big dogs, and lots and lots of fur. Her mother rescues Great Pyrenees dogs, which are very large and furry, and which shed a great deal. One day Zoe’s mother is outside brushing one of her rescue dogs when a moving truck arrives and parks on the street. Movers unload elegant furniture and velvet drapes and take them into the house next door. Zoe’s little sister Alice tells a story as they watch the movers. Her tale continues to unfold when a big car arrives and a man in a suit escorts a little boy out of the car and into the house. Alice the storyteller decides that the boy, a prince, is a prisoner.

The next day Zoe, Alice, and their mother meet the boy, Phillip, and his aunt, over the back fence. Phillip seems to like May, one of the rescue dogs, and she certainly likes him, but the aunt, Mrs. Croft, clearly does not like dogs and she pulls Philip away. Before she leaves, Mrs. Croft explains that  Philip does not speak and that he is staying with her and her husband while his parents “solve a problem.” Zoe, Alice and Mama all feel sorry for Phillip, who seems so lonely.

Luckily for Phillip Alice wastes no time. Like her mother with her dogs, Alice adopts Phillip. The next day she invites Phillip over, making friends with him, and then she informs his frosty aunt that the little boy is having lunch at her house.

Soon after Phillip’s first visit, May’s new owners come to claim her, and Kodiak, the Great Pyrenees who lives with Zoe’s family permanently, is clearly distressed. Many rescue dogs come and go in Kodiak’s household and he is used to this, but losing May seems to have upset him. He looks down the street, perhaps waiting for May to come back. Then Phillip comes up to him and, as Zoe and her family members watch, he says something to the big dog. Phillip can talk after all. He simply chooses not to. Perhaps he, like Kodiak, keeps getting left behind. Perhaps that is why the dog and the little boy are friends.

Bit by bit Zoe’s family gets to know Phillip and his aunt and they begin to appreciate how sad the child is and how much his aunt wants to help him. The problem is that she doesn’t know anything about children, and does not know how to connect with silent Phillip. She also does not understand his connection with Kodiak and the new rescue dogs that arrive at Zoe’s house.

Then one stormy night one of the new rescue dogs, Jack, goes missing. Mama goes out to look for him. Soon after, Phillip disappears and his distraught aunt comes over to Zoe’s house looking for him. Zoe feels that she has to do something and so she too goes out into the storm. Somehow she knows that if she find the dog she will find the boy, or vice versa.

This extraordinary and heartwarming book explores how people, and dogs, respond when they are confronted with a person who is clearly struggling. Zoe and her family, both human and animal, understand that Phillip is not talking because something is amiss with him inside. They give him space, and let him find his way. We see, as the story unfolds, how this unconditional acceptance and love, begins to touch Phillip, and how it even begins to affect his aunt.