NOTES FROM A DOG is his latest offering. Finn is a shy young man who is looking forward to a summer away from all the PEOPLE that always seem to surround and smother him at school. Nope, Finn anticipates lots of time with books and quiet. Fate, it seems, has other plans. Finn has a new neighbor for the summer, Johanna, a young woman dealing with chemo for breast cancer. Finn is smitten with Johanna and who would not be with this infectiously upbeat and hyper-organized woman? Before long, he is planning and planting a garden in his own yard for Johanna, helping raise funds for her triathlon attempt and even caring for her when chemo makes her ill.
One of the miracles here is how Paulsen takes this potentially depressing situation and infuses it with so much vitality and good humor that this reader laughed through her tears all the way to the ending. Love Finn and his pal Matthew and Dylan the dog and Johanna and all the other family members who populate this slim novel. The cover (see below) with its arresting yellow and red will demand attention and indeed, attention must be paid.