Title: Twig the Collie
Author: Craig Massey
Major Themes: Christian Life, Dogs, Pennsylvania, Survival
Synopsis: After being accused of committing a crime, Gordon is sent to a farm to spend the summer—but when his cousin turns against him, will he learn to be peace-making and loving even when his efforts are not rewarded?
Quite a number of years ago, we bought several books on tape from a Christian bookstore. Our older children, who were probably about six or seven years old at the time, listened to those stories over and over. One of them was Twig the Collie. I don’t know how many times they listened to that one, but it was definitely a favorite! When it was the turn of my 12-year-old to choose a read-aloud recently, he asked me to read the print copy we have of this book so that I could record it, because the tapes are nearly worn out by now. Even though they have heard the story before, they were all mesmerized by it again!
Gordon has been sent from his home in Philadelphia to live with his uncle and aunt on their farm, because he was accused of committing a crime. He knows he didn’t do it, but no one will listen to his side, and he feels like he can’t tell everything anyway, because of who it was that actually did the deed. When he arrives at the farm, his cousin Willie is immediately prejudiced against him, giving him a hard time. The first day there, he is expected to help the family bring in the hay before a rain storm arrives. After a grueling day of harder work than he ever imagines possible, with constant jibes from Willie, Gordon is ready to run away—but he falls asleep and misses his chance.
Soon, Gordon meets Mr. Blueweather. The old man is always cheerful and loving, and he tells the lonely, hurting boy about his own best friend, Jesus. Gordon spends all the time he can with his new friend, and tries to make friends with the man’s puppy, Twig. Then, Gordon and Willie accept the challenge of living in the woods, competing to see which boy can stick it out the longest without any help. The prize? Twig, the collie pup.
This is very much a boy’s story. The tension between the boys, the contest in the woods, the dogs, and the crimes that Gordon finds himself accused of and their resolution—all these combine to make a story that any boy will thoroughly enjoy. Woven through the story is the salvation message, as Gordon learns from Mr. Blueweather. The writing style and proofreading aren’t quite the highest quality, but that hasn’t seemed to bother my sons; they loved the content.
Read Aloud—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, 10 – 13, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12