Author: Cynthia Kadohata
Genre: Historical Fiction
Summary:A German shepperd 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.
Rick Hanski is headed to Vietnam. There he’s going to whip the world and prove to his family and his sergeant--and anyone else who didn’t think he was cut out for war--wrong. But sometimes Rick can’t help but wonder that maybe everyone else is right. Maybe he should have just stayed at home and worked in his dad’s hardware store.
When Cracker is paired with Rick , she isn’t so sure about this new owner. He’s going to have to prove himself to her before she’s going to prove herself to him. They need to to be friends before they can be a team, and they have to be a team if they want to get home alive .
Told in part through the uncanny point of view of a German shepperd, Cracker! is an action packed glimpse into the Vietnam War as seen through the eyes of a dog and her handler. Its an utterly unique powerhouse of a book by the Newbery Medal-winning author of Kira-Kira. (summary from back of book)
“Grrr. For I am the all-powerful Cracker!” pg. 1) This book is bursting with energy and life! Excitement is portrayed through the Vietnam War and the characters’ pasts and personalities. It's hard to not get pulled into the tone and feeling of the book when Cracker is taken from her favorite owner Willie, a little boy of 12. And you can’t help but be proud of Rick for not wanting to work in his father’s warehouse and sticking up for himself. The description the writing gives really helps you feel exactly what the character is going through.
When Rick becomes a handler and is paired with Cracker, he is frustrated and confused. This makes it hard to bond with her, especially since she is bent on hating the world and the people in it for taking her away from Willie. Seeing both points of view, it’s easy to see how the relationship between Rick and Cracker changes. We quickly see it go from suspicion and frustration to loyalty and respect. Seeing both sides, we understand both characters, but the characters themselves don’t understand each other. Part of the entertainment provided by this book is the excitement of them learning to work together and survive in Vietnam.
Honestly, this is a very simple book. It’s easy reading and not hard to follow, but it definitely keeps your attention. I could read this book over and over again. It’s funny and sad, it’s clean and entertaining. I wish more books were like "Cracker! The Best Dog in Vietnam."