The Dog, Ray, by Linda Coggin is the story of a girl who is reincarnated as a dog. Which sounds rather bald, and kind of odd. But it is a story that works; a gripping, emotional read.
When Daisy is killed in a car accident, she's slotted for reincarnation. In the normal run of things, she would have been born again as a person, but lack of availability in her area lands her rebirth as a puppy. And in a slip-up, she's been left with her memories of her human life, and she wants to get back to her parents. Instead, she finds a friend in a homeless boy named Pip, who also is looking for family, and as they travel together, Daisy gradually looses her human memories and becomes more and more completely Pip's dog, Ray.
Daisy's metamorphosis into true dog sounded to me, when I first read about this book, like something horrifying and grotesque--a loss of humanity and a loss of self. But the actual progression of her change was, instead, gentle and natural; she wasn't, after all, Daisy the human girl any more, so sinking more and more into dogness seemed like a gentle, natural thing to happen to her. And it was made more palatable by the bond between her and Pip, a loving relationship formed purely by the dog, Ray, with very little of Daisy to do with it.
This book offers a moving portrayal of homelessness; one of Daisy's first and best friends in her dog life is a very sympathetic older homeless man, who is also kind to Pip, himself a runaway from foster care.
Give this one to kids who love dogs who like their fantasy real-world oriented and their reading on the sad side: it didn't make me exactly cry, but almost.....Kirkus and I are on exactly the same page with this one; they say (full review here): "A powerful story brought to heart-beating life by its cogent craftsmanship."