“Soldier Dog” by Sam Angus is the kind of story that lulls the reader along, reading about racing dogs and a boy who loves them and struggles with his bitter father while they live in rural England during the first World War. The boy, Stanley Ryder, joins the army even though he’s only fourteen because of something unforgivable that his father does.
He ends up in the school for War Dogs. He’s ordered to train an angry, aggressive Great Dane named Bones. Stanley accomplishes wonders with Bones, and because of the critical need for messenger dogs, they both are sent to France, and they both see combat.
“The Creativity Project: An Awesome Story Collection” is edited by brilliant teacher Colby Sharp, who is also a blogger and important advocate for children’s literature. He started the Nerdy Book Club with other book-loving educators, and the group has become hugely respected in the literary world of children’s books.
This book is Sharp’s debut in publishing, and a fabulous debut it is. The idea is brilliant: Forty-four artists (authors and illustrators) were invited to provide two prompts for writing or illustrating ideas. The prompts could be anything — written or drawn. Each participant was then provided with two other prompts (anonymously) from which they could choose to respond. The unused prompts are collected at the end of the book for readers and teachers to use and play with.
In this touching Holocaust story, “What the Night Sings,” by Vesper Stamper, a young Holocaust survivor must reconcile her life after she is liberated from a concentration camp.
The reader meets Gerta at Bergen-Belsen just before the camp is liberated. Rivkah, an acquaintance of Gerta’s parents from their hometown of Köln, is dying in Gerta’s arms. Just as the liberation soldiers enter, Rivkah dies. Thus is the reader introduced to the fact of death and its importance in Gerta’s life.
“Can I Be Your Dog?” by Troy Cummings is a book that should be on the shelf of every family who loves dogs. It’s an extremely touching story of a homeless dog who wants nothing more than a home of his own.
He decides to try to find a home by writing letters to the people who live on his street, Butternut Street. He starts with the nicest house on the street and explains in his missive that he is potty trained and has his own squeaky bone. He even offers to get along with their cat. They respond:
We’re so sorry, but you cannot be our dog. Our cat is, um, allergic to dogs. Good luck in your search!
“The Traitor’s Game” is Book One in Jennifer A. Nielsen’s newest series, and it’s sure to become just as popular, just as adored as her other award-winning books. It’s the fantasy story of a kingdom with a cruel magical ruler, Lord Endrick, who seems immortal and whose viciousness is unparalleled.
“The True Adventures of Esther the Wonder Pig” by Steve Jenkins, Derek Walter and Caprice Crane is illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld. It’s a lovely picture book about a pig who grew and grew — not only in size, but also in the hearts of those who love her.
Esther’s story is incredible. Adopted as a mini-piglet, she was nothing of the kind. An acquaintance called her adopters, two of the authors of the picture book, and said that she had a five-pound micro-piglet but couldn’t care for it. She explained that the piglet shouldn’t grow to more than 70 pounds. The adopters thought Esther would be like a third dog, but when they took Esther to the vet, he broke the news that Esther wasn’t a micro-piglet, but rather a commercial pig. The woman who gave them Esther wouldn’t answer messages.
“Being Fishkill” by Ruth Lehrer is a book that will break your heart and force you to think about the horrors that a troubled family may engender. If you are born into a family filled with incest, abuse, and poverty, your choices, your life, and your future may be forfeit to a fate from which you cannot escape.
Fishkill Carmel, who was named after the exits that the car she was born in was passing at the moment of her birth, has lived the first twelve years of her life with her illiterate mother and her extremely abusive grandfather. When her grandfather dies and her mother disappears, she lives on her own in their cabin. But after befriending Duk-Duk at school, life turns around for Fishkill. For a while.
There are 20 dogs at the Sebring, Florida county shelter who are scheduled to be killed on Tuesday if they are not rescued or adopted before then. The volunteers are desperately trying to spread the word so that no lives are lost. Please share their story and please see if any of these dogs might work with your rescue, should you have one. The volunteers are willing to help with transport and pulling the dogs.
Note that all the dogs have the comment that they need a slow introduction to other dogs and cats. This is because shelter workers and volunteers know that when adopters are rushed and impatient, the results can be bad, so dogs get returned to the shelter. There are proper ways to introduce new dogs into a household. The internet has lots of information — just Google it. But a dog needs time to decompress from the stress of being in a shelter with many, many other dogs. Just throwing a dog into a new environment without slow introductions is taking a huge risk. And when an adopted dog is returned to the shelter, often a second “owner surrender” at that point, the shelter often doesn’t give the dog much time to find a new home. Please, no matter where you adopt from, do some research. Ask questions and take lots of time.
It’s funny, it’s informative, it’s clever, and the illustrations are great. “Read the Book, Lemmings!” by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by Zachariah OHora is a must-have for toddlers and kids through third grade. The adults reading the book will love it, too!
The book begins with some facts about lemmings:
“lemmings: small, fuzzy, illiterate rodents who share the icy North with arctic foxes and polar bears. People used to think lemmings jumped off cliffs. Now we know they don’t.”
In “The Wife,” Alafair Burke manages to combine several characters who bring plenty of backstory to the novel. The titular wife, Angela, is the survivor of a kidnapping she had suffered as a teenager. She and another teen were kept by a sadistic rapist and tortured for years. She finally escaped with a baby, but the other girl was killed.
When Angela met Jason Powell, a successful professor, the fact that he wanted to marry her overwhelmed her. But she was thrilled at the chance to leave East Hampton, where her parents and those around her struggled to make a living. Angela had had her life disrupted when she was kidnapped, so she never finished high school. That left her feeling insecure around Jason’s highly educated friends, so she became a homebody, happy to be left to raise the son whom Jason considers his as well.
Kids who love reading about history and facts will love “The Thrifty Guide” books, billed as “A Handbook for Time Travelers,” a time-traveling series by talented author Jonathan W. Stokes. Sprinkled throughout the books are references to vacation packages to exotic places/times like ancient Rome and other hot locales. There are also legal warnings like this one:
“If you are shot by a British musket, just remember, you signed a waiver. Enjoy your trip to the American Revolution!”