HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Rafa’s Dog
Author: Helen Griffiths
Jacket Illustrator: Charles Robinson
Publisher: Junior Literary Guild Book Club, republished 1983
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 9-12
Rating: ***** 5 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Category: General youth fiction
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Griffiths, Helen. Rafa’s Dog (Published in 1982 by Holiday House Inc., New York City, NY). Eleven year old Rafa lives in Madrid, Spain, with his Papa, who is a waiter at a hotel in the City Centre, Mama, and little sister Conchi, who is six years younger than he is. Rafa wants a dog, but Mama doesn’t like dogs. He is going to get a little sister or brother instead. So while Mama is having the baby, Rafa and Conchi are going to the village where Papa was born and grew up in La Mancha near Ciudad Real, about 120 miles south of Madrid, to stay with Papa’s older sister, Aunt Emerenciana (Meri), and her husband, Uncle Fat.
While there, Rafa befriends a little black stray dog named Moro and finds this relationship helpful when tragedy strikes his family. What is the tragedy? How does Rafa react to it? And can Moro do anything to help the boy? There are a couple of references to drinking wine and brandy, along with a few common euphemisms (e.g., “gosh” and “blasted”). Rafa’s Dog is a well-written story that makes for interesting reading and would be especially useful with children who have experienced some sort of family tragedy.