Raising Lumie by Joan Bauer

In Raising Lumie, a grieving girl gets a new family and a dog-owning dream fulfilled.

Raising Lumie by Joan Bauer. Viking, 2020, 267 pages

Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 8-10

Recommended for: ages 8-12 independently; 6-10 as a read-aloud

Olive lost her mom when she was just a baby. Now she’s lost her dad, the world’s best plumber, to cancer. The only good thing, or less-than-awful thing, is that Dad’s illness has brought Olive’s grownup half-sister into her life. Maudie takes over guardianship duties with grace and enthusiasm–but denies Olive’s deepest with for a dog. The timing isn’t right: the girls are moving to a new town, where Maudie has taken a new job, and in the boarding house where they’ll be living there’s no room for a dog.

On her first day at the new job, Maudie insists on taking little sis along, and there everything changes. Who could have guessed the job would come with puppies? They belong to a guard-dog training center nearby, here to be socialized. One beyond-cute yellow lab named Lumina (Lumie) stands out, and for Olive it’s love at first sight. This being a dog story, the feeling is mutual, and love wins out over doubtful landlords and hesitant sisters. Olive wins the job of training (“raising”) Lumie, but with the proviso that they will have to part once Lumie is raised. Having already suffered one great loss, will Olive be able to survive another?

The story is told from her point of view, as readers participate in the light and dark passages of her life. Grief is still very much a part of it, but Lumie helps her pick up the leash and start moving forward again. As with most Joan Bauer novels, the spotlight is on good people: honest tradesmen who take pride in a job well done, slightly crotchety neighbors, loyal siblings. The few stinkers who appear are dispatched a little too easily, but most readers will love “raising Lumie” right along with Olive, and may even want to look up volunteer opportunities at the nearest a guide dog center.

Overall Rating: 4 (out of 5)

  • Worldview/moral value: 3.5
  • Artistic/literary value: 4.25

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Janie

Janie is the VERY senior staff writer for Redeemed Reader, as well as a long-time contributor to WORLD Magazine and an author of nine books for children. The rest of the time she's long-distance smooching on her four grandchildren (not an easy task). She lives with her equally senior husband of almost-fifty years in the Ozarks of Missouri.

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