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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Kaya is an Australian shepherd dog. Kidnapped by a coyote when she was a puppy, she was meant to be food for the coyote family, but the mother took a shine to the puppy and adopted her as one her own. Kaya is raised in her coyote family, but she never really fits in. Unable to kill, she earns considerable disdain from her coyote father. Trapped again, Kaya re-enters the world of humans and discovers a new life with a new purpose, one that puts her again at odds with her coyote father. Although her coyote siblings continue to bond, Kaya is torn between a life in the wild and the comforts of living with humans.
Sunny Weber’s novel, From Wild to Mild: A Dog in Two Worlds, is a powerful, but gentle story written with the passion of Lassie and so many other heartwarming dog stories. Written in the first-person narrative, from Kaya’s point of view, the plot develops with a mixture of excitement, fear, warmth, compassion, sibling affection, and coming of age drama. The dog and coyote characters are well developed. Dialogue is used effectively to show the playful affection between Kaya and her coyote siblings, as well as to demonstrate the harshness of Kaya’s coyote father. So many parallels can be addressed as Kaya struggles to straddle two completely different worlds: wild and tame. Young readers who have been transplanted from different countries, struggling to adjust to a new culture, will certainly relate to Kaya in her attempts to adjust to a different life. A touching story that I couldn’t put down. Wow!