Sunday, August 12, 2018

Rules of the Ruff

36347777Lang, Heidi. Rules of the Ruff
August 14th 2018 by Abrams
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Jessie is struggling with having to spend the summer with her aunt and uncle's family, especially since her cousin, Anne, has gotten to be a bit mean following her friendship with another girl, Loralee. Being a tween is hard enough without having your cousin go over to the dark side of eye liner and fancy clothes in the summer. It doesn't help that she meets a cute boy, Max, in the park, and they have a lot of fun playing soccer until he realizes that she isn't a boy! Jessie would love to have a dog, so she approached near by dog walker Wes to be his helper. He's a crochety, quirky old guy, and he reluctantly agrees after Jessie badgers him. She has to learn Wes' "rules of the ruff" in order to deal with the dogs, and does a decent job. Times are tough, though, and Wes finds himself losing customers to Monique, who bills herself as a "celebrity dog walker" and is much better with people. Wes and Jessie set out to sabotage her business by cutting holes in her poop bags, dipping her leashes in bacon grease and other unpleasant pranks. To complicate matters, Monique is Max's mother. Max is dating Loralee, so Jessie thinks about planning revenge on Loralee as well. While her Uncle David is supportive and tries to make the summer pleasant for Jessie, Aunt Bea is generally irritated by everything that Jessie does, and she  hears from her father infrequently. Wes is the one adult who seems to care about her, but he has problems of his own that need to be addressed. Will his dog walking business be able to survive, and will Jessie be able to continue to help?
Strengths: This cover is fantastic, and Jessie's unhappiness at her summer situation is handled in a more positive way than many books. She's unhappy, but does try to change her situation. The sort-of romance with Max is pitch perfect for middle grade, including the fact that Loralee is much more interesting to him at first.
Weaknesses: It was a little worrisome that Jessie approached Wes and even got in the car with him before she told her aunt and uncle (although he does make her ride in the back, which was good), and the revenge on Monique was on the mean spirited side.
What I really think: I have a fair number of books that deal with dog walking businesses, including Greenwald's Dog Beach, Margolis' Dog's Best Friend and Krulik's Puppy Love, so I think I will pass until interest in this topic increases.           
Ms. Yingling

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