Sunday, June 12, 2016

MMGM- Be Kind to Animals

25776225Salamon, Julie. Mutt's Promise
March 8th 2016 by Dial Books

Mutt shows up at Mr. Thompson's farm, having had a rough life and pregnant. When she has four puppies, the son of workers on the farm, Gilberto, is thrilled, and immediately becomes attached to Luna. When Gilberto's family leaves, Mr. Thompson sends the puppies with different families, since he can't take care of them. Luna ends up with Raymond, who runs a puppy mill and abuses the dogs. The only bright side there is Louis, a boy who helps out and eventually lets the dogs escape. They end up in the city where they are brought back to health and where Luna is adopted by someone who trains dogs for movies. Eventually, she is reunited with Gilberto, and all ends well. 
Strengths: Even though the dogs were abused, this was an upbeat story, and would even be good for upper elementary students who really like to read about dogs. The series of events makes sense, and the evil doers are brought to justice.
Weaknesses: Luna meeting Gilberto again strained credulity, but made a nice ending. 

What I really think: Rescuing Rover would be a great nonfiction book to read with this, as would the following title. 

26247053Cameron, W. Bruce. Bailey's Story

May 3rd 2016 by Starscape
ARC provided by Young Adult Books Central

Bailey runs off from his home as a very small puppy and ends up in a shelter. After a variety of not-so-pleasant experiences, he ends up with Ethan and his family. Bailey adores Ethan and wants to be at his side always, but when the entire family leaves to go to work and school, Bailey becomes destructive and chews up things in the garage. Eventually, the family falls into a routine. Summer trips to grandparents' farm adds some fun and excitement, but neighborhood bully Todd causes Ethan grief... and eventually, more serious problems. Throughout it all, Bailey proves his worth as Ethan's best friend. 

Illustrated with black and white drawings, this is a warm family story about overcoming small and large adversities with the help and support of family. Ethan is a typical elementary school student who has minor challenges most of the time, and major ones occasionally. 

Cameron does manage to tell the story coherently from Bailey's point of view. Many authors struggle to get the balance right with what would interest dogs and what makes an interesting story. Bailey manages to narrate Ethan's activities but intersperse his observations with commentary on how confusing some people are or how much fun it is to chew things!

Dog stories come and go in popularity, but with the upcoming A Dog's Purpose movie (January 2017), there may be a resurgence in readers asking for titles like Banks' Boy's Best Friend, Lord's A Handful of Stars, Woodrow's The Pet War, and Miles' The Puppy Place series. There is a companion volume to this book, Ellie's Story.

While I love a good dog story, Cameron's work seems kind of schmaltzy to me. I'm a little leery of any book that starts with a puppy realizing he's in a big pile with his brothers and sisters (at least it didn't start with the puppies being born!), and brings in more than one Lassie-like "Oh, no, Timmy's in the well!" sort of scenes. 

25942602Furstinger, Nancy and Desjardins, Vincent (Illustrations).
Mercy: The Incredible Story of Henry Bergh, Founder of the ASPCA and Friend to Animals 
April 5th 2016 by HMH Books for Young Readers 

This book was a good length and formatted well for middle grade readers. My only objection was that it was illustrated with drawings when there would have been plenty of period photographs that would have added a lot more to the story. In fact, there are even some at the back of the book. I would rather have seen them used throughout to support the text. 

"Only 150 years ago, most animals in America were subject to horrific treatment. They needed a champion to protect them from abject cruelty, and that person was Henry Bergh. After witnessing the beating of a horse in the streets of New York and attending a bullfight in Spain, Bergh found his calling. He became an enforcer of animal rights and founded the ASPCA, as well as created many animal cruelty laws. He even expanded his advocacy to children. When Bergh died in 1888, the idea that children and animals should be protected from cruelty was widely accepted: “Mercy to animals means mercy to mankind.”


  1. Oh, that bio looks interesting. Must track down a copy. Or just put it on our first order!

  2. I enjoy dog stories if the dog stays alive. These all look like good additions for canine loving readers.

  3. All of these look great, Karen. Thanks for telling about their good parts and those that are of concern. Happy Reading this week!

  4. The sentence "Even though the dogs were abused, this was an upbeat story" made me think about the scene in How To Lose A Guy when the girl kept pitching awful stories but always says she would keep it "upbeat." :) You have some great stories here for dog lovers. I love biographies. I hope this one lands in my library soon.

  5. The nonfiction title about the founding of the ASPCA sounds fascinating, I had no idea the society had such a long history. Very inspiring!

  6. Thanks for the heads up about these titles Karen. I love to read your reviews because you have such a pithy sense of humour. I have a hard time will dog (and cat and any kind of animal) book. I have all these allergies and can't breathe if I am around them, so I try to avoid them as much as possible. That said, I did enjoy A Dog's Purpose, but not enough to read the sequel.