A big dog named Gus narrates this sweet and compelling tale of friendship. His main job is to guard the livestock from predators on a South Carolina farm where he lives. It’s the kind of work Gus loves.

Little does he know his life is about to change. The first event is the day Diego and his dad visit the farm. Diego suffers from social anxiety and just being around Gus helps him feel better.

What happens next brings them closer. Gus is injured by a bear while protecting his flock. He’s hurt bad enough that it will take time to heal his injured leg. Gus’s instincts are to protect, but it’s not possible in his condition. Diego proposes the perfect solution to have Gus come live with them so he can rest and heal at their North Carolina coastal home.

Gus loves the ocean sand and water. A deeper connection with Diego is also happening. The quiet times they spend together are his favorite. But the neighbor hates Gus, especially the barking, and is doing anything and everything to remove this large dog from the neighborhood.

Gus and his best friend are separated once more, but not if Gus has his way.

The heartfelt narration shines throughout this well thought out plot. Gus tries to understand human ways through his eyes and ears. The silly game of chess humans play will never make sense, but not so for his job of being the emotional support to Diego. They need each other.

The tale will resonate with dog lovers and will win over anyone else. You’ll learn about emotional support dogs and mental health along with what a dog goes through to heal from injuries. A handy set of discussion questions are included in the back pages. JUST GUS is a timeless story that will be hard to keep on the shelves for long.

ABOUT AUTHOR, McCall Hoyle (from her author website)

When I’m not reading or writing, I’m probably spending time with my husband and children. There’s almost always a pet around too. We have a precious golden retriever named Apple and an adorable three-and-a-half legged cat named Jim, who holds the key to our hearts and makes a cameo appearance in my second young adult novel, Meet the Sky. 

I come from a long line of strong women. I’m named for my grandmother, “Pinkie”, who was the first female editor of an Associated Press newspaper. Her sister, my great-aunt, was a physics professor at Auburn University. They were women way ahead of their times, which I think is pretty cool. 

And then’s there’s my day job as a middle school teacher librarian, which I think is pretty much the most awesome job on the face of the planet. I get to connect kids with books. Could life possibly get better than that? And my students are like my extended family. We read, write, think, talk, and laugh every day. Every once in a while, we cry. (Yes, we’re that close.)

Checkout mccallhoylebooks on Instagram for the most up-to-date information on my reading, writing, and dog training. 


I hope you will join us next week! It’s here I share highlights from other individuals blogging about middle grade books. Many of the posts will have reviews, interviews, and tips on writing. Take a look at PAST MMGM POSTS.

It’s easy to participate. All you have to do is email me the title of the book or feature and a link to your blog at gpcolo[at]gmail[dot]com

Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately–and don’t forget to say what you’re featuring) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening (11 PM Eastern Time) in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday.

*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me.

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, New Release and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to JUST GUS

  1. What a charming book about a boy and dog helping each other heal. I love the story and themes. Emotional support animals are so important and when the tables are turned on Diego, it is his time to help his best friend. Dog lovers will love this one! When I first looked at the cover, I thought the dog had wings — but it was his tale. LOL. Great share today!

  2. I enjoyed this one, but the cover always makes me stop– it looks a bit like Gus’ tale is an angel’s wing. There’s something about the depiction of light behind him as well. Stella is popular in my library, so I’ll definitely purchase this one.

  3. I don’t think I’ve read a book before about an emotional support dog. That’s an interesting idea. Thanks for the heads up. I’ll look for it.

  4. Andrea Mack says:

    This sounds like a great dog story!

  5. Weird. My library has another book about a dog with the same title. Different author. And for adults.

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