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We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Book Review

This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the first book in the “Carver Chronicles” series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Gavin’s family has recently moved to a new neighborhood. At home he endures pinching and rude comments from his older sister, Danielle. He makes a new friend at school named Richard. When Richard comes over to play video games, Gavin suggests they get candy from Danielle’s secret stash under her bed. While Gavin is digging for the candy, Richard picks up Danielle’s prized snow globe from a class trip. He throws it and yells for Gavin to catch it. Gavin doesn’t have time. The snow globe breaks. Danielle is furious.

Aunt Myrtle and Uncle Vestor come for dinner. Gavin learns Myrtle and her yappy Pomeranian, Carlotta, will be staying with his family for a week while Uncle Vestor is at a barbershop quartet conference. When Myrtle learns about Danielle’s broken snow globe, she demands Gavin pay for it. She decides to help him earn the money by making him walk Carlotta every day after school for half an hour. She explains his task in detail, including how he must use a bag to pick up the dog’s messes. Myrtle waits for him after school each day. She doesn’t even allow him to get a snack before the walk.

Carlotta is outfitted in pink frills, and Gavin is embarrassed at having to walk her. In the park, an older boy takes Carlotta’s favorite chew toy, forcing Gavin to secretly replace it with a similar one. Gavin and Richard are in a store when Gavin sees a bully named Harper steal a toy. He tells Richard about it later, and Richard tells his older brother, who is Harper’s friend. Now, in addition to the stress of dog walking, Gavin fears Harper will come after him.

When Harper finally does accost Gavin in the park, the older boy who took Carlotta’s chew toy appears. He tells Harper to leave Gavin alone or else. The older boy also returns the chew toy. On the last day Gavin is supposed to walk Carlotta, he returns home to learn she is missing. Aunt Myrtle is beside herself. Gavin and his dad search for the dog without success. They put up posters bearing her picture.

The next day, Gavin sees Deja and Nikki from his class walking dogs. One of the dogs is Carlotta. Nikki reluctantly surrenders the dog when Gavin convinces her Carlotta belongs to his aunt. Gavin feels like a hero as he returns Carlotta to her distraught owner. Uncle Vestor, who has returned from his convention, gives Gavin some extra money as a reward. After his aunt and uncle leave, Gavin realizes he misses Carlotta.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Gavin’s demanding Aunt Myrtle overrides Gavin’s parents’ wishes when she stays at their home. She orders Gavin around and forces him to walk her dog so he can pay back his sister. Mom and Dad are frustrated by Aunt Myrtle’s demands, but they let her have her way while she’s staying at their house for the week.





Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Stealing: A bully named Harper steals a toy from a convenience store.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

6 to 10 years


Karen English, with illustrations by Laura Freeman






Record Label



Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company


On Video

Year Published





We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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