Cracker is one of the United States Army's most valuable weapons: a German Shepherd trained to sniff out bombs, traps, and the enemy. The fate of entire platoons rests on her keen sense of smell. She's a Big Deal, and she likes it that way. Sometimes Cracker remembers when she was younger, and her previous owner would feed her hot dogs and let her sleep in his bed. That was nice too.
-from the book jacket
I knew what I was getting myself into just by looking at the cover. A dog (German Shepherd) in the Vietnam War.... Let's just say I had a feeling I would be crying before the book was over. And of course, I did cry. But it wasn't all sad.
We have had several German Shepherds as part of our family and they are amazing dogs, protective and very smart and sweet too. I love reading books from the dog's point of view. And this book does that well. The dog sees what happens in a different way than a person would and her thoughts about what happens are quite poignant and sometimes humorous.
One of the sad things about this book was how during the Vietnam War, these dogs (who are credited with saving approximately 10,000 human lives) were considered military equipment. At the end of the war, the majority of the dogs who survived were either euthanized or given to the South Vietnamese army (their fate remains unknown). The good thing is that after the Vietnam War, military policy changed and war dogs were allowed to come home. Today the policy is known as No Military Working Dog Left Behind.
Reading this book was part of my Historical Fiction genre of the month project. I do believe this book is not made for elementary school students and I am suggesting we move it to the Middle School library. There isn't much descriptive violence or bloodshed, especially considering this is a war based book. But, I just think it will appeal more to older readers.
Students in grades 6 and up who like historical fiction or stories about wars. It is important that they know that the story can be quite sad at times.