A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's Shiloh, the story of a boy's love for an abused beagle, is thrilling and moving, and it will make kids think. The main character, Marty, faces a series of moral dilemmas, as everything in him wants to protect Shiloh from mean Judd Travers, but he feels remorseful as he piles lie upon lie to keep Shiloh safe. Judd is a scary villain who mistreats his animals, so some sensitive children may have a hard time reading about his violence and cruelty. There are also detailed descriptions of hunting for rabbits and deer, and of a German Shepherd attack on Shiloh. Shiloh also contains a couple of instances of rude language, including Judd calling Shiloh a "damned animal."
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
SHILOH tells the story of tenderhearted Marty and his devotion to an abused dog. One day, Marty comes upon a lost beagle, which follows the boy at a distance. Marty quickly notices that the dog is fearful and very thin. Marty's dad helps his son return the dog to its owner, Judd Travers, whom Marty knows to be dishonest and mean. Marty observes that Judd kicks his dogs, and the boy becomes increasingly desperate to protect Shiloh from abuse. Meanwhile, the dog runs away from Judd whenever he gets the chance, and he keeps trying to get back to Marty. The boy eventually decides to conceal the dog in the woods near his family's home, and he makes up implausible excuses to squirrel away half of his own food for Shiloh. As Marty's lies (and his hunger) grow, more and more people find out his secret, and before long Shiloh is in even more danger than he was before.
Is it any good?
This timeless, heartwarming novel is also a thought-provoking page-turner. Does Shiloh have a right to be treated kindly? Is it OK for Marty to lie to protect Shiloh? What will happen to him and to Shiloh if his lies are revealed? Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's story will move animal lovers from middle grades to middle school, and it's a great point of departure for families and classrooms to discuss the moral dilemmas that Marty faces.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Marty's dishonesty in Shiloh. Is Marty wrong to lie to his family in order to protect the dog?
Judd Travers owns Shiloh. Does this give Judd the right to do whatever he wants to his dog?
Have you seen any movies based on Shiloh? One was made a few years after the book was published (1999), and another in 2006. Which did you like better, the book or a movie? How are the movies different from the book?
- Author: Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
- Genre: Animals
- Topics: Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Great Boy Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster
- Publication date: January 1, 1991
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 13
- Number of pages: 144
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Award: Newbery Medal and Honors
- Last updated: February 16, 2021
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