In The Summer of Riley by Eve Bunting, she doesn't shy away from tough issues. Published in 2001, this story deals with death, divorce, bullying, and the potential loss of a dog.
Blurb from Goodreads: Eleven-year-old William never needed a friend more than now. After his parents' separation, his father's new engagement, and his grandfather's dying without any warning -- adopting big, beautiful Riley is the first thing in a long time that has made him feel better. That is, until Riley innocently chases a horse. Local law states that any animal that chases livestock must be put to sleep. Suddenly William stands to lose another thing close to him. Together with his "totally unsurpassed" friend Grace, William begins a campaign to reverse the county commissioners' decision. But with a community divided on the issue, and the bully Ellis Porter trying to stop them at every turn, will they be able to save Riley's life?
I loved seeing William and Grace work hard to fight to save Riley. They show how children can have a voice in the processes of government. William's anger was portrayed realistically, as well as they way he processed his anger and learned that things are never as black and white as we think they are. If you are an animal lover, you will enjoy this story.
Read to a child today even if that child is you.