It’s Matt’s first Christmas without his mother, and he is doing everything he can to keep her traditions alive, from decorating the Christmas tree with pokeberry candles to asking Pa to tell the story of the Christmas miracle when animals were given the power of speech. When a hungry bear comes out of hibernation and surprises Matt and his Labrador retriever, Sara, in the. Mattescapes up a tree, but while defending him, Sara is mauled by the frustrated bear. Matt must get help for his beloved dog; the only problem is that snow is coming and he is completely lost. Suddenly, he hears a voice telling him the way. Is it Sara’s? Or is it Ma’s? Before Matt will leave, he makes Sara promise she’ll be alive when he returns. This jewel of a novel from acclaimed author Jackie French Koller beautifully portrays the loving bond between a boy and his dog.