Saturday, May 09, 2020

Dog Days in the City

Kendall, Jodi. Dog Days in the City
November 5th 2019 by HarperCollins
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

In The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City, Josie and her large family adopted Hamlet, a pig. When he grew too big to keep in their townhouse, he was sent to live in the country on the farm of neighbor Mrs. Taglioni's brother. Josie is still volunteering at a veterinary clinic nearby, and one day seven puppies are left at the clinic with a note saying that the owner had seen her on the news and thought she would be able to find home for all of the German Shepherd mix puppies. The vet says that Josie must get permission from her parents to foster them, and once she does, things get complicated. Sully, a neighbor boy she likes, says he will help her, as will several of the other kids in her neighborhood. Her brothers and sisters are less than excited, but help out a bit as well. Some of her friends think she should forget about animals and return to gymnastics, but Jodie knows what she loves best. In between taking care of the puppies and visiting Hamlet, she is faced with the fact that Sugar, the family's 14 year old dog, is not doing well. Josie must face the best way to say goodbye to the puppies as well as to her beloved family pet.

There is  never a shortage of books about animal shelters and children who want to take care of animals, but there is never a shortage of readers for them, either. Most animal obsessed readers would be thrilled to have seven puppies arrive unbidden on their doorstep, even if it means quite the outlay of money for food and puppy pads! It was interesting to see Josie's thoughts about quitting gymnastics, and her light romance with Scully was fun as well.

When I was growing up, everyone I knew wished they had more brothers and sisters, so Josie's family and all of the activity will appeal to readers who enjoyed the family stories of the Vanderbeekers and Penderwicks. Josie has to fight a bit to be heard in her family, but that is something to which most middle graders can relate.

Maple's Roxbury Park Dog Club, Cervante's Lety Out Loud, Deutsch's Cinnamon Bun Besties and Garland's The Twelve Pets of Christmas will enjoy learning more about Josie and her family as well as finding out how Hamlet is faring out in the country.

For some reason, I can't get anyone to pick the first book up, even though it is sent in central Ohio. That's also something that confused me-- Josie takes a train out to the farm, and there aren't any passenger trains here in Ohio. Maybe it's set on the east coast, but I got confused because the author lived in Columbus when she was young and had a pig?

Johannes, Shelley. Sabotage (Beatrice Zinker: Upside Down Thinker #3)
March 10th 2020 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Beatrice calls a meeting of Operation Upside with her friends Sam and Lenny, and they decide what the newest awards will be. Beatrice is wary, because her awards have gotten her into trouble in the past, so when she wants to present Sam with one, she is worried that Lenny might not approve. There are problems with another award as well-- Lenny wants to give one to Chloe for "Most Brave", but when she sneaks into Chloe's pretend vet clinic, she sees an Upside award already posted, for Best Vet! Of course,Beatrice has to investigate, but she is soon getting herself into trouble at school. Her parents, who are well used to her shenanigans, ask that she scale things back, and even take away her ninja suit. Still, the mystery must be solved, and the careful dynamics of elementary friendships must be preserved if Beatrice is to remain friends with Lenny as well as newcomer Sam.

This is an excellent chapter book for readers who have read all of Parks' Junie B. Jones books and are a little older than Junie; second through fourth grade would be the sweet spot for this. Beatrice is very energetic, interested in break dancing, and finds it hard to sit still in school. The episode where she is determined to make it through class without getting three marks against her is very indicative of her personality, and even though she tries very hard to behave herself, it just isn't in her nature to do so. Young readers enjoy characters who sometimes get into trouble, and adults enjoy those books if the character is well meaning.

Friendship problems are different in elementary school than they are in middle school, and I enjoyed how this book was very classroom-centric, and how the girls interacted with many different classmates. They suspect several of them for various reasons, like Wes and his scented magic markers, but are never mean in their interactions. They think through who might have had motive and means for creating and presenting the certificate, and work to solve the mystery.

The adults in the book are also well represented; when Beatrice makes the poor decision to investigate instead of getting on her bus to go home, we see the concern for her well being demonstrated by her parents, and I particularly liked how the principal works with Beatrice to make her understand how the school is concerned with her safety.

Readers who are big fans of Judy Moody, Ivy and Bean, Brown's Lola Levine, Mills Franklin School Friends and English's Carver Chronicles will enjoy Beatrice's exuberant antics as she tries to navigate through school and relationships with friends.

Too young for middle school, and children who misbehave are never my favorite. Picky Reader loved Junie B. Jones, but we had frequent conversations about appropriate behavior, especially when it concerned inconveniencing teachers and other students!






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