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Monday, February 8, 2016

This Side of Wild: Mutts, Mares and Laughing Dinosaurs by Gary Paulsen: Book Review

ARC received at no charge to facilitate review.

When author, Gary Paulsen, rescues an elderly poodle named Corky from animal shelter, he discovers a spunk and lack of fear that makes the dog an amazing guard dog who returns the favor of saving a life. Gretchen, a dog who drinks from a mug, convinces the author that animals have an understanding and way of communicating that goes beyond what our minds can fathom. Who knew a mare would actually have the capability of protecting a jackrabbit from coyotes or that a bird could not only mimic a president but maybe even feel lonely? Some fascinating insights into the relationships animals have with humans.

Overall, the book felt like a compilation of notes about animals that didn't quite make it into Paulsen's adventure novels. While not Paulsen's best work, the reluctant reader may love the different anecdotes on animals relation to man. With each chapter being a different experience, the older middle grade reader can merely enjoy the short stories rather than think through a plot.


Thursday, December 3, 2015

A Shiloh Christmas by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor BOOK REVIEW

Book received at no charge to facilitate review.

Marty can't imagine his life without his beloved beagle, Shiloh. Rescuing Shiloh from the cruelty he endured while living with Judd Travers was the best thing he ever did. Now it's just a matter of time before he gets the debt to the veterinarian he incurred to rescue his dog paid off. In the meantime,  Judd works to improve his reputation.

While Marty watches Judd struggle to become a better person, he meets Rachel, the new girl at school and the preacher's daughter. As he slowly gets to know her and her family, he can't help but wonder why she seems fearful of her father. When someone sets fire to the woods, Marty can't help but notice the stark difference between those who blame Judd in parallel to the fire and brimstone teachings of the preacher and the those who band together to help each other. Will the search for Judd's dogs and the rebuilding of lost homes unite the family and community?

While A Shiloh Christmas is less about the dog and more about the love of family and a person's ability to change, the bond that Marty shares with his dog keeps him grounded when he can't control what goes on around him. Though the story delves into the serious subject of abuse, themes of love, acceptance and the willingness to change will tug at the heartstrings of the mature middle grade reader.

Rating ★★★★★

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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Book Review: Charlie Bumpers Vs. The Perfect Little Turkey by Bill Harley and Illustrated by Adam Gustavson

Book received at no charge in exchange for an honest review.
Thanksgiving at the Bumpers' house looks to be a grand event. With fifteen people slated to attend, Charlie Bumpers can only imagine the incredible feast. Nothing can go wrong. At least that's what Charlie thought until he finds out his bratty cousin Chip will be staying at his house and sleeping in his room. What ensues nearly destroys Charlie's Thanksgiving.

Harley adeptly handles family relationships with humor through Charlie, the middle child who never seems to catch a break. However, this time he does when his older brother quits picking on him long enough to help him out and his annoying sister sticks by him for once without trying to get him in trouble. A heartwarming look into family life with Charlie finding a new definition for family. The reader can't help but relate to the real life scenarios and characters while they learn tolerance and acceptance.

Rating ★★★

Publishing Information:

Publisher: Peachtree Publishers (Sept. 1, 2015)
ISBN: 978-1-56145-835-6
Ages 7-10

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Picture Book Review: Stay! A Top Dog Story by Alex Latimer

Book received at no charge in exchange for an honest review.

Ben loves his dog, Buster and thinks he's the best dog in the entire world. His parents think otherwise. Buster has a knack for leaving messes wherever he goes and gets too excited about things that move like squirrels and especially the postman.

Sadly, Ben must leave Buster behind with Grampa when he goes away on vacation. But how will he know how to take care of him? Ben makes sure he leaves lists, diagrams and pictures for him but it's not enough. He frets that he has forgotten something and writes letters and postcards. The only problem is that he still forgets to tell Grampa not to take Buster to the post office and when Grampa makes the mistake of dragging him along, Buster wrecks havoc. Grampa sets out to change Buster's bad behavior but will it work?

Dog lovers will love the playful antics of the slightly naughty, Buster, and will love the humor in the quirky notes Ben leaves behind. A fun and visually stimulating look at what dog ownership is all about.
Rating ★★★★☆

Publishing Information
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers (Sept. 2015)
Written and Illustrated by Alex Latimer
ISBN: 978-1-56145-884-4
Ages: 4-8

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