Middle Grade Books on Dogs: Review Four

Here’s the last review for now. Hope you had fun reading my previous posts on dog books. Be ready for when I write more reviews on canine stories.

Hachiko Waits by Lesléa Newman

Hachiko Waits is a fictionalized story based on a true account. It takes place in Japan, starting with Hachiko’s puppyhood and his close relationship with his owner, the Professor. He develops the habit of following the Professor to the train station when the Professor goes to work. The dog leaves the station, then he comes back to greet his master.

This story would endear any dog lover, though it does have sad parts. The Professor dies unexpectantly at his job, and Hachiko still waits for him to return. He faithfully waits for him throughout his life, and a fictional boy, Yasuo, helps the Station Master care for him. Spoiler: Hachiko himself dies. The book says he dies of natural causes, though it has been found that the real Hachiko died of cancer and an infection.

Despite the bleakness, this book contains humor, an “awwww” worthy dog, and a happy ending involving a memorial statue and Yasuo getting engaged.

This story would be great for third grade to fourth grade. As you read, you’ll have a fascinating glimpse into Japanese culture, and there’s a glossary of Japanese words.

Notes for discernment: There’s a brief discussion on lucky numbers. That is, the Professor explains why he named Hachiko after hachi, the Japanese word for eight. The reason is that eight is his “lucky number.” He is sure Hachiko would be lucky, as he’s the eighth dog he has owned (though it is debatable whether Hachiko was his eighth dog in real life). There are people who pet the dog for “good fortune,” and someone says there’s possibly a train that takes passengers who’ve obtained Enlightenment up to Heaven. A Shinto priest expresses gratitude for the ancestors.

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