I recommend this book for: middle school?
Beau and Danny are brothers who do just about everything together. It's 1964 and America's eyes are on the space race, and Beau is completely caught up in the excitement of the space program, idolizing Gus Grissom, and dreaming of becoming an astronaut. Danny's dream is simpler - he wants a dog. Their parents have dreams too - Mom is writing a novel, the next Gone With the Wind, and Dad is digging a fallout shelter to keep his family safe from the attack he's sure is coming. Although they're considered hillbillies and made fun of because of Dad's job (he drives a septic truck commonly called the poop-mobile), and there's a bit of tension between their parents, the boys are happy. Then a tragic accident takes Beau, and Danny and his parents have to adjust to life without him. Then the miraculous happens - Danny's parents let him get a dog, but this dog is special. In fact, Danny is convinced that Rocket isn't just a dog at all - he thinks he's Beau.
This book was intriguing, but it had its problems. One, I was completely unsure about how old Danny was until over 3/4 of the book was over - since the book is in our YA section, I had him placed at about 11 or 12, only to find out that he was really 9, which changed things a good bit. And as such, it might be hard to find an audience for this book - there's no bad language or any kind of mature situation, but the description of Beau's accident could be disturbing for younger children, but Danny's youth might keep older kids from being interested. Historical fiction is a hard sell most days, but the dog aspect might make it more appealing, so it could go either way. That said, I did enjoy the story, and although the actions of the adults that actually drove the story tended to not make sense to me, the actions of the children made perfect sense. So, it's a good book for the right audience, but not for everyone. It would definitely make a good alternative for kids looking for historical fiction for school assignments, since it's a bit more exciting than many books in the genre and (gasp!) it's told from a boy's point of view!