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When 11-year-old Marty Preston finds a young beagle up in the hills behind his home near Friendly, West Virginia, he is convinced that the poor pup is in trouble. Certain that the dog is being abused by his owner, Judd Travers, Marty names him "Shiloh" and immediately feels that he will do anything to save the dog from further harm.
When the dog runs away from Judd to Marty's house, Marty is faced with a number of ethical dilemmas: Should he tell his parents? Should he return the dog to the abusive Judd? Should he steal food to feed the mistreated pup? Marty finds that there is a fine line between telling the truth and lying by omission. He struggles to stand on the principles he knows are right, even if they go against the law.
As Marty's half-truths begin to pile up, however, the villainous Judd comes closer and closer to finding Shiloh, who Marty has hidden in the woods. Then when Marty discovers that Judd is poaching, he blackmails him and makes a deal to work for Judd to pay for the dog, but this is not what he tells his parents. In the end, readers will rejoice when Marty and Shiloh are allowed to be together.
Acclaimed author Phyllis Reynolds Naylor writes in a folksy, down-home style as she spins the story of Marty's efforts to find his way through a complicated situation. Insightfully, Marty concludes that "nothing is as simple as you guess - not right or wrong, not Judd Travers, not even me or this dog." A Newberry Medal winner, this suspenseful story contains memorable characterizations that take a sharp look at the best and the worst in human nature.