Monday, May 23, 2016

MMGM- Roxbury Park Dog Club

So why is it that fun stories with good messages like the ones below are relegated to paper-only releases when Depress Fests like Pax  and Maybe a Fox get all the buzz, but no children will (or perhaps should) read them? This sort of thing, along with Maker Spaces and social media, make me wish that I hadn't joined ALA.

Should have stuck with teaching Latin. Oh, wait...

Maple, Daphne. Mission Impossible
May 3rd 2016 by HarperCollins
ARC from Young Adult Books Central

Kim is a bit apprehensive about starting middle school, especially since her best friend Sasha has met a new girl, Taylor, and insists on bringing her into all of their best friend activities. Kim is excited about working at the local dog shelter as part of a community service requirement, especially since she is really good at comforting and controlling animals. Kim struggles in school a bit, and the hardest part of the volunteer experience is writing an essay about how her work has helped the organization. This should be easy, because when the girls find out from Alice, who runs the shelter, that it is in financial trouble, Kim comes up with an idea: the girls can walk dogs for people and bring the dogs to the shelter for play time. If they charge, the dogs get socialized, the shelter has money, and people will have more exposure to dogs that might then be adopted. Kim tries to balanceaall of her activities and keep her friendship healthy as well. 

This addresses lots of valid middle grade concerns in a constructive way. Kim's concern that she will lose Sasha to Taylor is a situation with which many middle school students struggle. It's nice that she and Taylor eventually become friends, especially since Kim is the one who realizes that Taylor is a bit scared of some of the larger dogs. The scene where she is trying, very constructively, to being this up with Taylor is an especially good one-- Taylor is very defensive, and the girls almost have a falling out until Taylor admits her fear. Kim's older brother and parents are concerned, but try to let her figure things out on her own. 

The super cute covers of this series will make girls want to pick these up, especially since the dogs are adorable! 

There are a lot of books where girls have businesses walking dogs-- Margolis' Girl's Best Friend, Greenwald's Welcome to Dog Beach, and even Coco Simon's Cupcake Diaries books. There are also books where girls make money babysitting, baking, and having nail salons. Readers of those books will appreciate how Kim and her friends combine the business aspect with community service! What I'd like to see now is a book where BOYS have a business of some kind!

26074128Maple, Daphne. When the Going Gets Ruff
May 3rd 2016 by HarperCollins
ARC from Young Adult Books Central

Sasha is enjoying her work at the dog shelter but really, really wants a dog of her own, particularly Mr. Smashmouth, with whom she has bonded. Her single mother is very strict and overly concerned with cleanliness, making Sasha bring clothes to change into so that she doesn't get dog fur on her "school" clothes, so she does not want a pet. It doesn't help that Sasha is not very responsible, forgetting to do chores, bring things to school, and has trouble getting class assignments done. A typical Sasha incident goes something like this: for a school project, the girls decide to make Turkish delight, they gather the ingredients and start cooking in Sasha's kitchen, and eventually the entire kitchen is covered in rose scented goo. Sasha tries to clean up, and does admit her mistake to her mother, but things are still a mess. Taylor and Kim try to help Sasha out as best they can, but it's up to Sasha to prove to her mother that she can juggle everything-- school, ballet, the dog shelter AND owning a pet. 

It was fun to read about Sasha's life, since most of it was different from anything I've experienced. Tween readers will love finding out more about ballet, will sympathize with the parental strictures, and will worry about Sasha's relationship with her friends. Fans of Schroeder's It's Raining Cupcakes, Malone and Nall's You're Invited series or Singleton's The Curious Cat Spy Club will enjoy the business aspect of the dog walking business as well as the friend and parents drama included. 

This series would make a great birthday gift for a tween with a dog-- a creative tween could make up quite a cute package with the books and some dog themed items!

Animal Planet Animal Atlas
May 24th 2016 by Animal Planet
Copy provided by Blue Slip Media

This large format book (13"x 11") is a great introduction to biomes of the world and the animals that live in each one. Since this is a topic covered in our seventh grade sciences classes, I was very glad to see it. Starting with a brief description of the eight different types of biomes, this book then discusses what biomes appear on different continents and describes the different animals found there. There are fun sidebars by animal narrators, and short facts about endangered animals and "surprisingly human" characterists scattered throughout. The maps are large and colorful, and the information is arranged in a graphically pleasing fashion. There is an index and list of definitions at the back. While there's not enough information on each animal to make this a good resource for projects on a particular animal (a project that comes up frequently), this would be a good starting point for deciding what animal to research, and would be very useful in a classroom setting to introduce the topic of animal habitats. 

My only objection is the size of the volume-- I understand that it needed to be bigger to fit in all of the maps and information, but it does make it difficult to keep in the library, especially since children area unlikely to check out such a big book. I may give this to our seventh grade science teachers to keep in their classrooms. 


Kathy Martin said...

Yay for books that aren't depressing. Here is my week. Happy reading!

Patricia T. said...

I really love to find books with animal/dog rescue themes and friendships. I have a granddaughter who loves them. This sounds like a wonderful series. Thanks for the introduction.

Jane @ said...

Oooh, that animal atlas looks awesome, but I see what you mean about it not being something a lot of kids would naturally check out. Looks like a great addition to a classroom library, though - I can imagine lying on a carpet in the classroom just looking at all the details on each page, I was a bit of an atlas nerd as a kid. :)

Michelle Mason said...

I understand what you mean about preferring fun books. Despite the book I reviewed this week, I'd rather read something happy, too :). These Roxbury Park Dog Club books sound great. Thanks for sharing!

Linda B said...

The Animal Atlas book looks and sounds worth a look, Karen. Thanks!

Kellee Moye (@kelleemoye) said...

I agree that we need a mix of sad and happy books, and I think we do. I do know that students love both. I have big fans of books like Maybe a Fox and Honest Truth and books like Land of Stories. There is a place for everything :-)

I have the Animal Atlas--it is phenomenal!

Happy reading this week :)

Jana Eschner said...

I have several students this year who were really into the Shelter Pet Squad books. It looks like the Roxbury Dog Park Club books might appeal to these kids. I should give them a try. Getting close to summer, have a great week!

Chris Margocs said...

Thanks for the new series to consider; I think it would fit well in my elementary library, too!

Ricki Ginsberg at Unleashing Readers said...

I am glad to hear that Animal Atlas is good! I have it on my list for this week. I completely agree with the size of the book. It is currently sideways on my bookshelf. I also find it difficult to hold and read big books. My son can't carry them over to me to read them, either! It makes sense, reading your explanation of the map size necessity. I am excited to read it this week!

Kay said...

The Dog Park books sound like fun. They remind me a little of the Babysitters Club books, but I like the idea of combining business with community service.

Emily Andrus said...

Oh my goodness, I echo your first statement whole-heartedly!

thechroniclesofachildrensbookwriter said...

That's exactly why I've been avoiding reading the buzzed about books- although most of the time they are good. But yeah I can't wait to read more light but not fluff middle grade books.

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