Tate is overjoyed when the scrawny mutt shows up, acting like she wants to stay. Tate even convinces Mam and Pap to let her keep the dog — that she names Sable for her dark, silky fur. But a well-fed Sable turns out to have quite a mind of her own, and soon she's wandering off and stealing things: a rubber boot, a chocolate cake, a doormat. When neighbors complain, Pap, who is a carpenter, gives the dog away to one of his customers, a doctor who lives miles away.
Young Tate is determined to get her dog back. She single-handedly builds a fence that will keep her from wandering off, and then gets permission from her parents to "visit" Sable. When she gets there, however, she finds that the dog has been missing for weeks. Heartbroken, Tate returns home, only to find that her hard work has earned her new respect in the eyes of her reserved, aloof parents. Her father sees she has the makings of a carpenter herself; her mother realizes just how much the dog has meant to her. The renewal of their relationship is just the preparation needed for the surprise return of Sable, who has been, it seems, as anxious for a reunion as Tate has been.
Karen Hesse has written a simple, yet powerful story that will speak to young chapter-book readers, as effectively as her other novels — including the Newbery Medal-winning Out of the Dust — have spoken to their older siblings. Soft pencil drawings by acclaimed artist Marcia Sewall effectively evoke the characters and moods of this strong dog story.