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Note: Like our double review of Save Me a Seat, we're publishing two reviews of Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's classic Shiloh. Enjoy!


Review by Isaiah Brown:

Imagine you’re just taking a walk down the side of a river trying to enjoy the scenery. Then eventually you turn around and see a dog. The dog looks lean, hurt and abused and you want to keep it, but you know you can’t because your family can’t afford a dog.

What if you then found out that the owner was a mean hunter that cared nothing for his dogs and may of killed one of them in the past while hunting. Knowing this, would you feel powerful enough to stand up to him and try to win the dog over or just return it and let him keep abusing the dog knowing you had the chance?

This is what Marty faced in the book Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. He was just taking a walk to find the dog following him. He tried calling for the dog but it just sat there until he whistled. When it came over, he saw it looked hurt and abused and instantly wanted to care for it, though he knew his family couldn’t afford it. Later, he finds out that the owner was a mean hunter named Judd that abused his dogs. So, regardless of what his parents told him, he still made a pen for Shiloh and when Judd came looking for him, he had to lie to him and everyone else about not seeing his dog. After this, his mom found out about Shiloh and they were forced to keep it a secret from dad. Then, a very unfortunate event happened that could end Shiloh’s life in the next day...

Shiloh is a very good book and is inspirational because it shows what true love is. It also makes you wonder how far you would go for someone or something and do all Marty did. For example, Marty said that if he were in heaven and saw Shiloh head on his paws, he would run away for sure. This is saying a lot because who would want to run away from heaven for a dog? Marty would, which shows how much he cares for Shiloh. Personally, I think the best part of the book is when Marty finally stands up to Judd to try and win Shiloh over once and for all because it’s one of those “YES or FINALLY” moments in a book. On the contrary, the only thing that wasn’t the best was all the slang throughout the story because in some cases it was difficult to understand the text.

The author wrote this book to show what true love looks like and what it means to truly love something. The author shows this with Marty and all he does to keep Shiloh. This includes working for Judd twenty hours of hard labor without a true guarantee that Judd will keep his word and lying to everyone about not seeing Shiloh just so he could keep him. I would recommend this book to anyone that likes strong characters and I would rate it a four out of five because it’s very well written, but it does not have a lot of action. Now that you know about Shiloh, I hope you will consider to read it soon.

Review by Eli Naylor:

What would you do if a dog that has been abused followed you to your home? Would you give it back to its owner and let it be beaten, or would you keep it so it wouldn't get hurt anymore? It really changes what is right and wrong and makes you think of what you should do. It would be wrong to take the dog from it’s owner, but there is also a problem with sending the dog back to be beaten. Well Marty, the main character of the story has to face all of this by himself.

Marty is a twelve-year-old boy who doesn’t come from the richest of families. He lives in West Virginia in the town of Friendly. One day, Shiloh, the dog, followed Marty home and he really wanted to keep Shiloh, but when he asks his parents to keep him they say no. First, Marty is just a little bit angry, but still very sad. Then, it gets even worse as they find out the dog belongs to Judd Travers. This isn’t bad at first, but then they realize Judd is beating and starving his dogs. This makes Marty’s feelings for the dogs a whole lot stronger.

A few days after Shiloh is returned to Judd Travers, he runs away again and Marty finds Shiloh in the forest. Marty was not planning on giving Shiloh back to Judd Travers, so he hid him. He takes supplies from the shed in his yard and builds Shiloh a makeshift pen on a hill on his family's property. The pen is ok, but not strong enough to keep a deadly intruder out of his pen.

This story was one of the most well written stories I’ve ever read in my lifetime. It was described in a phenomenal way where you can perfectly imagine the setting, the characters, and what is going on at the moment. The characters had emotional depth to them, so much so that I actually got attached to them and sometimes think of them as real people. They actually seemed like real people, that is how well they are described. This book was incredible, and, so well written. I would read it again for sure.

I would rate this book a 3 out of 5, since I liked the story because it was very well written, but I didn’t like the concept of dogs being abused. I would recommend this book to someone still, but I would make sure they didn’t like dogs too much. It made you think about everything in the world that relates to this and makes you think how abused animals feel. How their lives must have been during the time they were beaten and abused.

Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2000. Buy the book here and support Stone Soup in the process!

Have you read this book? Or do you plan on reading it? Let us know in the comments below!

Reader Interactions


  1. Wow love the detail! Very well written by two very young kids. I can tell they are going to go far with their further studies. If they keep writing like this for the rest of their life they will do great things. Love Isaiah’s part of the report very well written, but on the other hand Eli’s part needs a little bit of a grammar check and he needs to be able to go into further detail with the book. Personally I very much disliked this book, but I can tell why these two young lads loved it!
    Review 10/10

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