Thursday, March 22, 2018

When the Crickets Stopped Singing and Good Dog

Donahue, Marilyn Cram. When the Crickets Stopped Singing
20 March 2018, Calkins Creek
Copy provided by the publisher

It's very hot in the summer of 1939, and Angie is glad to see new neighbors move in. Reba Lu is the new minister's daughter, and the two get along well. Angie's other friend, Geraldine, joins them in thinking of activities for the long summer days, and the three decide that they will think about people in their town who might not be easy to like, and think of ways that they might be nicer to those people. One is a girl their age, Dodie Crumper, whose mother is a neglectful alcoholic. Another is the slightly odd older daughter of the kindly local doctor. Despite the rumblings of war in the national news, the girls have a fairly carefree summer working on their plan until they start to notice that one of the men in town is rather creepy. He watches them a bit too closely, makes some of the people in town uncomfortable, and is observed behaving in inappropriate ways with young girls... including Dodie. When a tragedy occurs, Angie must decide how to proceed in order to keep her town safe from this man's influences.
Strengths: This has a lot of good details about what daily life was like during this time period, and the book was written in a style that really brought it to life. The characters and their interests seemed true to the time period, and the inclusion of religion was interesting. The note at the end of the book about how public opinion and social mores have changed in regards to predators was very helpful.
Weaknesses: It was a bit hard for me to believe that Angie would have been believed, and the courtroom scene seemed odd, since the man hadn't been charged yet. I don't have a legal background, so maybe that's how crimes were investigated in the 1930s since I always need books for a seventh grade language arts project on historical eras.
What I really think: This covers a topic that is timely but rather depressing. The details were so fantastic that I really wish the topic had been more specific to 1939 and related to the history of the time.

35618037Gemeinhart, Dan. Good Dog
March 27th 2018 by Scholastic
Scholastic Book Club paperback copy

Brodie is a dog who has died and gone to a heaven-like afterlife where dogs run free. He is slowly remembering his life back on earth, and when he does, he realizes that he left his boy, Aidan, behind. He feels that the boy is in danger, so he talks to Tuck, a dog who has been there for a long time, and arranges to go back to earth so he can help. Tuck goes with him, even though both dogs know that they will forfeit their immortal souls. When Brodie arrives back near where his boy lived, he can't find him, and he is besieged by hell hounds who want to do him in. He and Tuck persevere and slowly learn the story of what happened to Brodie as well as Aidan's fate. Aidan does need a lot of protecting, and Brodie, although he is a spirit, manages to do everything he can to help keep his boy safe.
Strengths: Gemeinhart's writing gets better with every book, and readers who liked The Honest Truth will enjoy the emotional roller coaster of this book. Great cover.
Weaknesses: The hell hounds took time away from Brodie's essential mission and didn't seem essential to the plot.
What I really think: I'll probably buy a copy for readers who love dogs and want a tear jerker like Where the Red Fern Grows. Yes, it made me cry, and the writing is excellent, but I could have done without the stereotypical trashy, abusive father. Abuse comes in many more subtle forms.

This is a fantasy book, because there isn't an afterlife of any kind or description. Yes, the same can be said of ghosts or dragons, but it's just cruel to portray an afterlife where I could be together with my dog forever when that just isn't the case. We die, we die. The end.

Remember, this blog (and my reviews on Goodreads) lists MY OPINIONS. I know when to keep these opinions separate from my decisions to purchase books. I only purchase books that I think my students will read and enjoy. If you don't like my opinion, read the book yourself, and post your own review. You also don't have to agree with my opinion on the afterlife. You can just be wrong.

Wow. I must not be having a good day! Or the students are wearing off on me. Or it's time for spring break!

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