The Trouble with Tuck

The Trouble with Tuck

by Theodore Taylor


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Available for the first time in a Yearling edition, the classic, inspiring story of a dog who triumphs against all odds, by the bestselling author of The Cay.

Helen adored her beautiful golden Labrador from the first moment he was placed in her arms, a squirming fat sausage of creamy yellow fur. As her best friend, Friar Tuck waited daily for Helen to come home from school and play. He guarded her through the long, scary hours of the dark night. Twice he even saved her life.

Now it's Helen's turn. No one can say exactly when Tuck began to go blind. Probably the light began to fail for him long before the alarming day when he raced after some cats and crashed through the screen door, apparently never seeing it. But from that day on, Tuck's trouble—and how to cope with it—becomes the focus of Helen's life. Together they fight the chain that holds him and threatens to break his spirit, until Helen comes up with a solution so new, so daring, there's no way it can fail.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780440416968
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 05/28/2000
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 181,970
Product dimensions: 5.13(w) x 7.63(h) x 0.33(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Theodore Taylor has written other award-winning books, including The Cay and Tuck Triumphant.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

No one can definitely say when Friar Tuck began to go blind, not even Dr. Douglas Tobin, who was undoubtedly one of the best veterinarians in California. But the light probably began to fail for big Tuck long before any of us suspected it, and of course, being a dog, he couldn't very well talk about it.

I suppose that exactly when the shadows began creeping in, or when he finally slid into total darkness, doesn't really matter.

Yet I can clearly recall that miserably hot summer day so long ago when we first thought something might be wrong with Tuck. It didn't seem possible. Young, beautiful, so free-spirited, he had a long life ahead.

But the August of Tuck's third year on earth, my father, an electronics engineer, flew to Chicago on business, and the next day, a Monday, about midmorning, some neighborhood cats got into a noisy brawl along our back fence, spitting and screeching.

To Friar Tuck that was always an unpardonable sin. Not only were these cats intruding in his yard, a private and sacred kingdom, but, worse, they were creating an ear-splitting disturbance. His answer was immediate attack, as usual.

My mother was in the kitchen at the time and heard him scramble on the slick linoleum, trying to get traction with his paws, and as she turned, she saw him plunge bodily through the screen door, ripping a gaping hole in the wire mesh.

Up in my room, making my bed as I remember, I heard her yell, something she seldom did, and, thinking she'd hurt herself, I hurried downstairs and out to the kitchen.

Mother was standing by the back door, looking outside, puzzlement all over her face, which was usually a mirror of calmness. She still had her hand on top of her head, having forgotten it was there. Putting fingers to her hair was a familiar gesture when calamity occurred.

"Tuck just went through this door," she exclaimed, unable to believe it. The hand came down slowly. I declare." She was a Southern lady but had lost most of her way of speaking.

I then saw the big hole in the wire, as if something had exploded there.

"Some cats were fighting, and he got up and ran right through the door." Mother was awed.

I was sure that Tuck was far too intelligent to do a stupid thing like that. He'd always put on skidding brakes and just barked loudly if there was something outside disturbing him.

I said, "Maybe he was dreaming?"

Mother scoffed, "Helen!"

All right, he wasn't dreaming. He'd done a very dumb thing.

I looked out at him, thinking about excuses.

Tuck was sitting innocently on his powerful haunches in the grass, that dignified lionlike head pointed skyward. He seemed to be sniffing the air as if to make certain the squabbling cats had departed. To be sure, he wasn't concerned about any whopping hole in the screen door.

My mother shook her head and went outside, quickly going down the short flight of back steps and crossing over to him, maybe to scold him properly. He deserved it.

I followed her.

As she approached Tuck, his thick tail began to wag, switching back and forth across the grass like a scythe. She said, "You silly dog, you just broke the door," leaning over to take his big yellow-haired head into her slender hands and examine his eyes. She bit her lip and frowned.

Wondering why she'd done that, I had the strangest feeling.

Mother straightened up, still frowning widely.

"Why did you do that?" I asked. "Look at him that way?"

"Well, he acted as though he didn't even see the door."

Now it was my time. "Mother," I scoffed.

Then I went over and peered down into his eyes. To me, they were the same as they had been for more than three years -- liquid deep brown with dark pools in the center. They were so expressive, in laughter or sadness.

"Have you noticed anything different about Tuck lately?"' Mother asked.

"What do you mean?" He hadn't been sick or anything thin& to my knowledge.

"Oh, just anything different."

Offhand, I said, "No."

But there was something, now that I thought about it. I glanced into the acacia trees at the back of our deep lot. Doves often roosted up there, cooing in the day hours, and then they'd drop down to the yard and peck around. Tuck had always chased them, in rousing good fun and fair game, never catching one. They'd fly up and scatter, terrified of the bounding dog with the deep-throated bark. He loved to do it.

However, a while back, maybe three months earlier, the doves had suddenly turned defiant, I'd noticed. They'd begun to parade brazenly across the backyard. And I'd also noticed that Tuck wasn't going after them anymore. Maybe he was just bored with them, I thought. Or maybe the doves knew something that we didn't. I didn't want to think about that.

I said, "He's quit chasing the doves."

My mother's laugh was hollow. "I don't know what that means."

"Neither do I," I said. Maybe he was just lazy in the heat.

She sighed and went back to the door and stood there for a moment, staring at it, then shook her head and went on inside.

Thinking about the crazy thing that had happened in the morning, I took Tuck for his regular afternoon walk that humid day, paying special attention to what he did. That turned out to be absolutely useless because he did the same old dog things he always did -- sniffing his way by the telephone poles and fire hydrants when we were going along the sidewalk; more sniffing and running and endless leg lifting in the park, branding his territory.

The Trouble With Tuck. Copyright © by Theodore Taylor. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Trouble with Tuck 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Fiorella Albines More than 1 year ago
This book was so tuching. It is the sadest book I've ever read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was looking for a book for my fourth grade students when I read this book. Although everyone may not be as deeply touched as I was, I found this story sensitive, different, and lasting in my memory. As a dog lover, I could relate to the relationship between the young girl and her dog. The plot of the young girl's self-esteem was as intriguing as the plot of Tuck's trouble. --I couldn't put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is very touching and really makes you think and wonder about being blind.i absoluty love this book it is great.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a touching story. I couldn't put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very thoughtful,moveing,and it made me think how much I love my dogs Stella and Steeler By,Katie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was sad
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to read for summer reading. It was a great story and super fast to read. I recommend this book to anyone who has a dog and loves a dog!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this book was a very excellent book. Besides the part where Helen found out the dog was going blind, it was great!!! I thought the best part about it was when the dog saves her life two times.(I wish I had a dog like that!) I think this is one of the coolest and best books yet!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If i could, I would give it ******************************************************************************************************...that many stars and probably maybe even a million because I just really love dogs!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book
HomeSchoolBookReview More than 1 year ago
It is 1956, and thirteen-year-old Helen Ogden, who has thick glasses, braces, and frizzy hair, lives at 911 W. Cheltenham Dr., in the aging Montclair Park section of Los Angeles, CA, with her father, an engineer; mother, a teacher; two older brothers, Stan and Luke; and golden Labrador retriever named Friar Tuck Golden Boy, or just Tuck for short. In the three years that Helen has had Tuck, he has saved her life twice, once from an attacker while walking the dog in a fog-shrouded park and the other from drowning when she hit her head while diving in a friend’s swimming pool. But there is one “trouble with Tuck.” One day, Tuck goes to chase some cats out of the Ogdens’ back yard and runs right through the screen door as if he didn’t even see it. Their veterinarian, Dr. Douglas Tobin, tells the Ogdens that Tuck has developed retinal atrophy, or the disintegration of both retinas; in other words, he is going blind, and there is no known treatment. What will happen to Tuck? Will he have to be put down? Will he be given for experimental purposes to the university at Davis where researchers are working hard on retinal atrophy? Will Helen just run away to her Uncle Ray’s cabin at Lake Angeles and take Tuck with her? Or is there another possible option? Author Theodore Taylor, who also wrote the bestselling novel The Cay, based his story about Tuck and Helen on true events. As to language issues, Luke refers to Tuck as “Poopy,” and Helen’s mom uses the interjection “Lordy” once, but there is neither cursing nor outright profanity. Not even any common euphemisms are found. One thing that I did notice is that Helen, who narrates the story, says that when she learned of Tuck’s problem she prayed for the first time in a long time and that while she had done a lot of double finger crossing in her lifetime, she had not done much praying. This would seem to imply that the Ogdens were not a very religious family. Also, Helen doesn’t always tell the truth to her parents as she tries to figure out what to do about Tuck. But in general, the book is well-written and pleasant to read. Dog lovers will especially enjoy it. So many children’s books about dogs end with a lot of sadness, but this one concludes with triumph and joy. Also, it is good to see Helen’s own growth in self-confidence from being shy and feeling ugly as she learns how to handle the “trouble with Tuck.”
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is very touching.This book is about a dog that goes blind and his owner, helen, helps him. She's had him since he was a puppy
Guest More than 1 year ago
This magical book will suck you right in! Helen shows courage and bravery in this book, which is even based on a true story!!
Heather19 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
*spoilers*If this book had been about 70 pages shorter, it would've rated a 5 star. Just condense the first 70 pages or so. Because this book started out very slow, and even after the main thing was introduced, ie Tuck started loosing his sight, it just seemed to go slowly and nothing big was really happening. The last few chapters were great though, I was VERY surprised by Helen's creative idea on how to train Tuck to be guided, and I was really happy and excited at the end. Overall a good book, but very slow to actually get good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love it
animalsandmagic More than 1 year ago
A very good story about a blind dog that gets a guide dog of his own. This was actually the first book I ever read about either a blind dog or a guide dog so at the time I read this book, it was especially interesting for me. This book focuses on the challenge of a blind dog as well as how the dog adapts to having a guide dog. This book is perfect for dog lovers of all ages.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful book, I could not put it down!! If you had/have a pet you would known how upset Helen felt when she saw that her loving and life saving dog was going blind and might have to be put down!! I loved this book it is for all ages!
Guest More than 1 year ago
As you read this book you realize the importance of paying attention to animals. In this book you will encounter adventures with Helen, and her labrador Tuck. As Tuck becomes blind, Helen must give her dog extra attetion and care. So, the next time you are at a Barnes & Nobles, or Branes & consider getting your hands on Trouble With Tuck!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love dogs, so when I figured out that Tuck was going blind, it was a real heart-braker. But when Helen fought to be his eyes, and helped him in every way she could, even being blind didn't limit Tuck. Every one will LOVE this book! Ages 9-10000000000000000000000000000000000000!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I don't the the author could have done a better job writing a book! This is a great story about how a young girl and a blind labrador retriever deal with everyday issues and problems you may rarely have such as being kidnapped by a stranger in a park in which you don't even see him. Together they make life much easier for one another.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was so sad. But a the end it was very happy. To tell you the truth i didnt get the ending but i think its because i rushed thourgh it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nothings here!