It’s stay-at-home time in Illinois with COVID 19 everywhere. We left school on a Thursday afternoon expecting to return on Friday. But after an emergency school board meeting, our superintendent (rightly) decided to close school that night. School as usual was cancelled, and we have not been allowed to go back.
For me, it’s presenting a problem because all of my treasured personal picture books, a collection built up over years of reviewing superb books, are in my classroom. But a few new picture books have arrived in the mail, and one, in particular, is going to make for an excellent lesson with my first and second (and maybe third) grade students. Continue reading
Dog lovers will be charmed and amused by this little literary gem, with an adorable photo of a dog licking its face on the cover, and more adorable photos of dogs on every page. From pit bulls to pugs, the faces of the dogs and the haikus on each dog’s page are carefully selected for maximum effect. The lovely white poodle with the fancy lion haircut adorns a haiku that reads:
Within me there lies
The blood of a million wolves
You named me “Fluffy”‘
Some haikus are so clever and ambiguous, only dog parents will know what they are really referring to. “Lunch, no longer lunch/ Pooling in autumn sunshine/ Becomes again lunch”
There’s many references to poop and balls. The toilet might also be mentioned a few times. After all, it’s a dog who “wrote” these poems. Right? But there are also references to the companionship and love we have for our dogs and they have for us. But mostly, it’s humor. With some poignant exceptions like on poem titled “Going to Live on the Farm:” “Guys, there is no farm/ I wish there was, but there is/ Only nothingness” Heartbreaking haiku.
What makes these poems so enjoyable and so relatable is that they really do seem to express the feelings of our dogs. Loving, resigned, stoic, even disgusting at times, in all ways like our four-legged (usually) best friends.
And to answer the title question? It’s what remains after the surgery to neuter one’s dog, only expressed in rather less technical language.
First posted on Bookreporter.com.
“A Flicker of Courage” by Deb Caletti is a book that will appeal to children who love extremely fantastic books — fantastic in the sense that everything that happens in this story is either the best or the worst in the world, and Henry Every, the main character, and his four friends will have to vanquish evil and do heroic deeds without being caught or killed themselves. Continue reading
There are many dogs in shelters who are adopted and then returned over and over again. They bark too much. They are too active. They are too playful. In “Ember: Rescue Dogs #1” by Jane B. Mason and Sarah Hines-Stephens, we learn that those kinds of dogs often make the best working dogs.
This story is the first in what will be a series about rescue dogs who earn that title by then rescuing others — in effect showing the readers that just because a dog is in a shelter, unwanted, that dog, like all dogs, has a place where it can shine. Ember, who in the story pushes all her young siblings out from their hidden place when a fire threatens their home, a hole under a house, is rescued last. The firefighter who pulls her out resuscitates her and cradles her in his hand. Before leaving her with the animal control workers, he gifts her with one of his gloves. That turns out to be her most prized possession as poor Ember goes from one family to another, each time returned to the shelter for various reasons.
How important are the decisions we make almost thoughtlessly on a day-to-day basis? Sometimes they can have life-altering implications, and in this carefully crafted story about flawed characters, Catherine Ryan Hyde shows that sometimes, heroism isn’t made up of bold, brave actions but rather of listening and sharing small moments.
The story is about fourteen-year-old Lucas Painter. He explains, from some point in the future, that during the summer of 1969, his brother was in Viet Nam, and he was trying to help his best friend, Connor. Both Connor and Lucas have less-than-ideal family lives.
In “Freeing Finch,” author Ginny Rorby does what she excels at — the creation of a main character who is in need of love, understanding, and a place where she feels safe. Part of Finch’s problem is that she was born Morgan, the son of two loving parents. But since she was old enough to articulate the thought, Finch has insisted that she’s a girl. Her mother didn’t mind how she dressed or wore her hair, although it was a source of tension with her father.
“The Dog I Loved” is by Susan Wilson, many of whose books are about the relationships between people and the dogs who redeem them. Her books are about loss, betrayal, romance, and most of all, about what the love of a dog can do to save us, to make us feel whole, to make us more human. And in this novel, she does just that.
It’s the story of two women, Rosie and Meghan, who meet because of a dog, and it’s the story of how both their lives are changed by that dog and another dog, Shadow, the mystical dog that appears later in the story. It’s also about abuse and loneliness and how we can find comfort in friendship and by having a loving canine companion by our side.
With her “Marcy Carr” series, including the new “Blind Search,” Paula Munier checks all the boxes as to what makes a successful, gripping mystery. First and foremost, the main character, Mercy, and the former military working dog, Elvis, are likable and realistic. Elvis was her fiancee’s military working dog, and when he was killed, both his fiancé and his dog suffered greatly. Mercy is far from perfect, and she admits that the issue preventing her and Elvis from becoming search and rescue dogs is that they both sometimes lack warmth when dealing with people. Continue reading
It’s the time of year for snuggling by the fire, or just on a warm bed, and reading stories about winter, about family, about the holidays. Here are books for everyone — some are just beautiful winter tales about friendship and peace, others are about the Christmas season. Some have wonderful important messages and others are just plain funny. There’s a book for everyone in this sweet collection of picture books perfect for reading aloud.
In “Stay,” author Bobbie Pyron creates a story that will grab readers by the heartstrings as they root for practically everyone in this tale of homelessness, pride, friendship, mental illness, and above all — dogs. For in this middle grade novel, the dogs are important parts of the story and important — vitally — to those with whom they live.
“I Can Make this Promise” by Christine Day explores the emotional impact of finding out about one’s own heritage and culture, and at the same time shares a part of our history that is both shocking and horrifying. This book would be an excellent companion choice to Joseph Bruchac’s “Two Roads,” about Native Americans sent to “Indian School” and the discrimination suffered by Native Americans a century ago.
It’s rare for me to get three nonfiction adult books about dogs in one month, and even rarer when there is a definite link between the three books. “Rescue Dogs: Where They Come From, Why They Act the Way They Do, and How to Love Them Well” is, like all of the books, a touching set of stories, all about “Pete Paxton” (a pseudonym) and his investigation and undercover work to help dogs who are suffering from puppy mills, bunching facilities, and backyard breeders. The stories are heartbreaking, and in the subsequent sections of the book he delineates why it’s important to rescue or adopt a dog instead of buying one from a breeder or pet store. He also shares how to find a rescue dog and what to expect when you bring it home. His stories always focus on one special dog that energized him, a special personality that motivated him to make things better for all dogs. And in “Doctor Dogs,” Maria Goodavage shares stories of many special dogs, all of whom make the lives of their humans infinitely better. In fact, many of these special dogs have the ability to make life better for mankind as a whole. She shares the many, myriad ways dogs heal us, help us discover illness, help us live with disease, and help us emotionally. The third book, “Molly: The true story of the amazing dog who rescues cats,” brings things full circle with the two previous books. Molly is a rescue, and that’s what Colin Butcher, the author, was determined to use for his proposition — training a dog to rescue cats. He and his family had rescued animals his whole life, and he didn’t want to buy a dog from a breeder, but rather rescue one, as is encouraged in “Rescue Dogs.” Interestingly, the training that Molly received is from the same group that is mentioned often in “Doctor Dogs,” and which nonprofit trains dogs to help humans in many, many ways — even finding lost cats.
Each of these three books is a fabulous read — but don’t just read one, read them all! Continue reading