BOOKS: Ratzo

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 1998:


by Marty Crisp
Rising Moon (c/o Northland
Publishing, POB 1389, Flagstaff, AZ
86002-1389), 1998. 160 pages,
hardcover $12.95; paperback $6.95.

“While digging for dinosaur bones
in the desert,” the back cover of Ratzo
explains, “an awful stench leads 13-yearold
Josh Marks and his best friend Bernie to
discover a shed full of abandoned greyhounds.
Bernie goes for help while Josh
stays behind to free the surviving dogs from
their prison. Josh becomes attached to a
blue-eyed greyhound named Ratzo, who is
starving and far too sick to race. But that
doesn’t keep Josh from dreaming of turning
this rescued greyhound into a champion.”

Recommended for ages 8-12,
R a t z o is the first book of its kind to sensitively
and effectively introduce young readers
to the plight of the racing greyhound in a
manner that does the subject justice. Marty
Crisp’s non-patronizing style does not sacrifice
fact for safer fiction. Her descriptions
of conditions for racing greyhounds and the
racing industry are drawn from actual abuse
cases and are refreshingly accurate. But the
sobering facts are nicely tempered by a
believable and likable plot for young readers,
complete with real-life teen issues.
Similar in spirit to the much
acclaimed Shiloh, Ratzo is the story of a
boy’s empathic coming-of-age. As the
cover concludes, the moral lesson is that
“one person can make a difference.”
Indeed, Marty Crisp has, by educating the
next generation of potential track-goers.
––Melani Nardone

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