“When my death came it was swift,” reports 12-year-old Daisy. “One moment I was in the car, the next on the road, and then I wasn’t anywhere.” But Daisy isn’t left wondering for long. She soon finds herself in a sort of job center for souls about to be returned to Earth.
There’s only one hitch: Although instructed to go through the door on the right to take up her new corporeal form, Daisy goes through the door on the left. The result is her reincarnation into a puppy, and she remembers everything about her past life as a girl.
Although perfectly able and willing to take up her canine responsibilities, Daisy finds her first home leaves a lot to be desired. But after running away, she finds a true companion in a homeless boy called Pip, who names her Ray. Pip and Ray set off on a series of adventures: Pip is seeking the father who doesn’t know he exists, and Ray is hoping to catch sight of her own parents, whose lives have been inextricably altered since Daisy’s fatal car accident.
The Dog, Ray by Linda Coggin, first published in the U.K. in 2010, is told from Daisy’s often-humorous perspective: “It’s perfectly obvious to me what sit means. She doesn’t have to say it slowly, in a loud voice, as if I come from a foreign country.” While the voice is lighthearted and Daisy’s story has a satisfying ending, the book’s themes of death, the afterlife and homelessness make it best suited for readers age 10 and older.
Deborah Hopkinson lives near Portland, Oregon. Her most recent book for young readers is Steamboat School.