Boy's Best Friend
Ben is very concerned about his latest baseball game, but when his father has to leave suddenly, he's even more worried. It turns out that there are two dangerous escaped criminals on the loose, and his father, who is a policeman for the Gulfport, Louisiana force, goes to look for them. He leaves Ben in charge of his mother and both Hero and Scout, the new rescue dog. However, Ben is not able to just sit and wait when his father goes missing, so he deputizes his best friend, Noah, whose arm has been injured, to keep an eye on them while he takes off with Hero to help. During the search with the police, Ben is bitten by a snake and ends up in the hospital. He's in pain and woozy from the venom and the drugs, but he still manages to escape. He runs into another boy, Tucker, who loans him a bike and goes with him into the woods. Using Hero's skills, they locate his father in an abandoned cabin. Will two boys, a dog, and a wounded police officer be able to fight off two dangerous criminals?
As much as I personally shook my head at Ben running off from the hospital, Hero: Rescue Mission has all of the hallmarks of a top notch middle grade novel. It starts with a ball game and segues immediately into the search. Ben won't let anything stand in his way of helping, even when he is hurt. Hero is an awesome dog. The criminals are dangerous but just inept enough to be easily defeated. The pacing of the story is very quick, and there are just enough details to add an urgent verisimilitude to Ben's plight.
Reader's who enjoyed Wallace's The Wilder Boys, Hobbs Never Say Die, Gemeinhart's The Honest Truth, Klimo's Barry, or Messner's Ranger in Time series will be delighted with this harrowing tale of survival and adventure that showcases exactly why dogs are a boy's best friend.