‘The Best Days Are Dog Days’ by Aaron Meshon: picture book for young readers

bestdays dog days

Rating: 4 stars

In “The Best Days Are Dog Days,” Aaron Meshon manages to perfectly capture all the ways living with a dog (or dogs) is similar to having a child. In this simply, but charmingly illustrated story, a French bulldog and his best friend, a young girl, enjoy all that life and the local park have to offer.

Each page shows the story as their adventures relate to the young girl (referred to as Sis) and the dog. The girl and dog sleep, snoring, side by side, on the first page. On the girl’s nightstand are a lamp (decorated with dog bones), a picture of her and her doggie friend, and a barrette (with a dog on it, of course!). On the dog’s side of the bed there is a nightstand, also. On this nightstand are a dog treat, a sock, and a tennis ball.

Continue reading

For the birds: Wonderful picture books about birds


It’s summer and the birds are everywhere — including some fabulous picture book to read to young children and not-so-young children. Even adults will enjoy this bunch of feathery, bird-filled books.

“Bartholomew Quill: A Crow’s Quest to Know Who’s Who” by Thor Hanson is illustrated by Dana Arnim (Sasquatch Books). It’s a story that is perfect for young children learning about comparing and contrasting. The title character, a black bird, is trying to figure out what (and who) he is. Bartholomew travels and meets many animals, most of them birds, and the text compares the crow to the other animals.

Continue reading

‘The Good Dog’ by Todd Kessler and Jennifer Gray Olson


Rating: 5 stars

“The Good Dog” is a picture book by Todd Kessler, who is the co-creator of “Blue’s Clues,” the popular children’s television show, and Jennifer Gray Olson, who illustrated this book and also wrote the very clever picture book “Ninja Bunny.”

This book was accompanied by a card that said, “If reading is so important, why are children’s picture books getting shorter?” The card compares numbers from several classics (Peter Rabbit, The Story of Babar, Horton Hears a Who, Frog and Toad, and The Velveteen Rabbit) which have an average word count of 2087 with several 2015 bestsellers (The Day the Crayons Quit, The Book with No Pictures, Max the Brave, Little Elliot, Big City, and Pete the Cat) with an average word count of 414.

The question raises a good point. Why do picture books have a much smaller word count than picture books in the past? Why not have young children sit longer and concentrate for more time listening to a good story? In “The Good Dog,” the story is a good one.

Continue reading

Bilingual board books in English and Spanish; perfecto para niños bilingües


Adorable bilingual board books for young children can be found from several publishers. “La Llorona” by Patty Rodriguez and Ariana Stein (Lil’ Libros, 2015) is a board book based on the scary legend of La Llorona, “one of the oldest folktales ever told.” It’s a counting book that counts backwards from ten to one. Perfect for Halloween or anytime, it’s perfectly appropriate for even the youngest child. It’s not really scary; even the ghosts looks benign.

“A Color of His Own” by Leo Lionni (Alfred A. Knopf, 2016) is the wonderful children’s tale of a chameleon who wanted a color of his own. Each page tells the story in English with the Spanish translation below it. The illustrations are Lionni’s wonderful watery watercolors, and the moral is one that children love: things are better when they are shared.

Continue reading

Wonderful dog to die because shelter is filled


Update: Thanks to social networking, Kash was adopted and has left the shelter!! He is safe!

Kash is handsome, calm and knows basic obedience commands. The volunteers adore him. But in spite of his sweet temperament, he will be killed tomorrow unless someone emails the county shelter that they can adopt him or rescue him.

Kash is six years old and that mean that most people looking for a dog will walk right past him. People want puppies or young dogs, and at six, Kash is “too old” for most. It doesn’t matter that Kash is really in the prime of his life. He is old enough to learn quickly and he will certainly appreciate anyone taking him out of the shelter. Watch his video at this link and see how responsive he is with the volunteer. He’s just adorable!

Kash is afraid of thunderstorms and good with other dogs. The shelter did note that he is dominant when he plays with other dogs, so he may be dog selective. He would probably do well with a female or submissive male. The volunteers highly recommend making introductions very slowly. It takes a few weeks for animals to decompress after being in the shelter, and they need to get situated before they meet the animals in the home. And the beginning meetings should always be supervised. New dogs should always be separated from others during feeding. Kash is heartworm negative and already neutered.

Continue reading

The Lost Dogs by Jim Gorant a must-read for all dog lovers

I have been moving book reviews (especially about animals) to this, my new website, from Examiner. The review for “The Lost Dogs” was one of my first Examiner.com book reviews. I am showing it as new because with Michael Vick back playing football, it’s relevant to revisit just what he did and why people are so shocked that he’s back as if nothing happened. This book is beautifully written with horrible truths. It’s a must-read, if you haven’t already read it, really.


Rating: 5 stars

The Lost Dogs is a book about many things. It is about how perseverance and caring can triumph over millions of dollars and heartless bureaucracy. Most of all, it is the story of the resilience of a much-misunderstood and much-maligned breed, the pit bull.

This book about the Michael Vick dogs is divided into three sections: Rescue, Reclamation and Redemption. In Rescue, the story of the investigation and its accidental beginning is interspersed with the story of a little brown dog and a little red dog. This first section is the most difficult part of the book to read. It details the inhumanity of dog fighting and dog fighters. It shows dog fighting not as a glorious “sport” but as a cruel and illegal activity that is closely linked to drugs and illegal weapons. There is no glory in dog fighting. It is bloody and savage, and it dehumanizes those who participate in it.

Continue reading

Horribly neglected Lab mix has 36 hours to find rescue


Mikey has had a terrible life and unless he finds rescue or an adopter, his life will end in less than two days. For some reason, Mikey was brought to the county kill shelter even though he was at the no-kill Humane Society of Tampa Bay.

Volunteers wonder if he wasn’t “cute” enough for them to bother healing his raw, hairless skin and caring for his ear infection. While Mikey is heartworm negative, he is being treated for hookworms and his dermatitis. Mikey also has a large mass at the base of his tail.

Mikey’s video shows a calm, relaxed dog who takes treats gently and wags his tail. In spite of a neighbor dog barking, Mikey stayed quiet, attentively looking at his visitor. He seems to be a sweet dog. If you can save Mikey, you must send an email to the shelter by 9:00 am.

Mikey and the other dogs at Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center are all in great danger. The group that gave each and every dog a chance at rescue and adoption has had its hands tied by the county and shelter management. These shelter dogs are not being networked as completely as they were before the shelter management cut off access to the shelter information. Read more about this at “Dogs are needlessly dying; rescue group needs information to save them.” Please share Mikey’s story! It’s his only chance to get out of the shelter alive!

There is information on how to save Mikey on his Facebook thread. Mikey is ID#A1648729. Mikey is urgent — if his kennel is needed on Friday, he will be killed anytime after 9:00 am. If you can save him, please emailrescuepets@hillsboroughcounty.org and rescuemetampa@yahoo.com by 9:00 am tomorrow. You must include: Do Not Euth Mikey ID#A1648729 in the subject line. In the body of the email include your name and contact information. You must be willing to pick him up by 3:00 pm tomorrow. He is urgently in need of rescue from Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center, 440 N. Falkenburg Road, Tampa, FL 33619. The phone number is 813-744-5660. The shelter is open daily from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm.

Animals and books: these are a few of my favorite things…


Yes, dogs and books. If I could have gotten one of my four cats in the picture, I would have. Peanut is the dog who comes to school with me. She brightens the day of each and every child she meets. I have spent the last 30 years rescuing dogs and cats. Currently, I have three cats who were rescued straight from the streets, one is a foster who never got adopted and is not 14 (or so). I have three dogs, one rescued at age 6 from Missouri, one who I flew to China to bring back (my daughter was living there and rescued her), and one who was not rescued but is a facility dog for my school district.

Those of us who rescue directly know that finding and saving an animal is NOT cheaper than adopting. People say, “Oooh, a free dog (or cat)!” Chloe cost my daughter almost $10,000 after paying for export fees in China, surgery to fix her leg (broken as a puppy from being hit by a car and never fixed), emergency pyometra surgery, and other vet bills. Now she needs a wheelchair because at age six, the end-stage arthritis caused by the accident has gotten so bad she can’t walk on her leg.

Continue reading

Outpouring of support for abused dog

bellas standing

When Bella was in a kennel at Miami Dade Animal Services, a volunteer thought the dog had a broken leg. This was written about Bella in an article trying to find her rescue:

Bella is sweet and so desperate for some love that she dragged herself across her cage to get petted by a recent visitor. She is sweet and docile, but she may have been hit by a car. She tucked her right leg under while she scooted across the cage. She bowed her head submissively when getting petted. While there are no notes on her kennel card about her injury, the volunteer noted that “all dogs will get up on all four legs to be petted, but she didn’t.” This volunteer has noticed that no one is interested in Bella, but she is very sweet and loving.

Animal advocates and networkers feverishly spread the word about this sweet dog who needed medical care. When Precious Pets Adoption League saw some of the posts about Bella, they felt compelled to reach out and save her.

The miracle of social networking is such that on Facebook, through private conversations, the plan to save Bella was underway. The original plan was for volunteers in Miami to pull Bella and get her to a veterinarian to have her leg seen. Then she would stay in Florida until July 20, when a Chicago animal advocate (me) was going to be returning from a visit to Florida to save several dogs. The Michigan rescue would meet the Chicago-bound minivan and take Bella to their veterinarian and then a foster home.

However, in rescue, nothing is easy. When the shelter went to spay Bella before releasing her to the rescue, they noted that “Due to the severe trauma on his patient and the possible compromise of cardiovascular/respiratory system, OHE is declined at this time. Patient needs to be transfer (sic) to rescue immediately in order to perform RADs and determine the best treatment plan.”

Continue reading

Abandoned by her family, Nala urgently needs to find a home


Poor Nala. She was adopted from Miami Dade Animal Services several years ago but her owners abandoned her there again. The shelter is overcrowded, but her owners didn’t care that no assurances were given about her fate. When the new shelter opened, Nala was left at the old shelter while other dogs were moved to the new shelter.

Volunteers emailed to ask why this sweet dog, who knows basic commands and gives kisses, was not taken to the new shelter where she could be seen and have a chance to get adopted or rescued. (Dogs who are still at the old shelter, and there are still dogs there, cannot be seen by the public or by rescues.) At one point, for reasons no one knows, her listing was taken off PetHarbor. Volunteers were frantic that the disappearance of her page meant that she had been killed. Her profile  recently reappeared on PetHarbor.

Continue reading

‘The Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle’ is book 1 in new Rick Riordan series

trail of apollo

Rating: 5 stars

“The Hidden Oracle” is the first book in the new Rick Riordan series, “The Trials of Apollo.” It takes place (mostly) at Camp Half-Blood, a camp familiar to Riordan fans of “The Lightning Thief” and his other fantasy series. But this book has a very different narrator, and it makes this book — and probably the whole series — darned clever.

Instead of having the narrator be a teenager who happens to be a demigod (half mortal and half god), the narrator is none other than Apollo, one of the most famous of all Greek gods. After displeasing Zeus, he has been changed into a mortal. Far from his godly appearance, Apollo is devastated to discover that his new incarnation, complete with the very Greek name Lester Papadopoulos, is of a flabby, acne-ridden teen.

Continue reading