Thursday, September 20, 2018

Dogs are the best! (8-Bit Kittens, though...)

37825425Miles, Ellen. Spirit (The Puppy Place #50)
September 11th 2018 by Scholastic Paperbacks
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Lizzie is very used to being around dogs, since her family fosters many of them, and has Buddy, their own forever dog. When she walking to her friend Mariko's house on a very cold morning, she is surprised to see a beautiful white German Shepherd puppy out on its own. The puppy is very friendly, and lets her check his name tag, but seems insistent on taking her some place. Lizzie follows, and finds that Spirit's family have been in a car accident. Spirit ran away from the car, and the little boy's leg is badly injured. Since the father has to go with him in the ambulance, he asks if Lizzie will take Spirit back home, which is near her friend's house. One of the EMT's also knows Lizzie and vouches for her. When Lizzie takes the dog to its home, she is greeted by a harried, heavily pregnant mother and several small children. Spirit was supposed to be adopted by a family out in the country, but proved to be too active in the company of his sister, so the family sent her back. Clearly, Spirit needs a new home and a sense of purpose, and Lizzie and her family are great people to help him find them.

I love the realistic touches that Miles' throws in. Many children's books in the past are very lackadaisical about fairly important safety issues, which can set a poor example for impressionable young readers. Lizzie is also careful about approaching dogs, tells the adults in her life where she is going, and takes excellent care of Buddy as well as the foster dogs, whom she is realistic about leaving when they find new homes. This may seem like a small thing, but it shows a great sense of craft and makes for a very rich, multilayered book.

Mariko and Lizzie are able to have some fun, making maple sugar candy when they aren't playing with dogs! There are also good details about how maple syrup is made, and anyone who has read the Little House on the Prairie books will be glad to have instructions on how to make the candy.

The Puppy Place books include a little bit of information about the breed at the end of the book, and since there are quite a number of these books (as well as a very helpful nonfiction guide), the author mentions the others breeds that are inclined to be service dogs, including Honey, Shadow, Sweetie and Teddy. Such a long series is great for emergent readers who like to read shorter books but go through a lot of them! This author also has a Kitty Corner series for readers who prefer their main characters to be feline!

37825409Calkhoven, Laurie. Hero Pup of World War I (G.I.Dogs #2)
September 11th 2018 by Scholastic Inc.
Copy provided by the publisher

Stubby was adopted from the streets of Boston by Bob Conroy, who managed to sneak him on the ship his unit took to Europe. Once they arrived, the commanding officer allowed the dog to be the mascot of the group as long as he didn't interfere. Stubby proved his worth by alerting men to poison gas, killing rats, and generally improving morale. As Conroy's unit was involved in a broad cross section of WWI activity, and we see the battles and movement through Stubby's eyes. The dog is even injured and in hospital for six weeks at one point, and even loses a friend on the battle field. He and Bob are still in Europe for the Armistice, and once they return to the US go on tour. Stubby was quite the celebrity, meeting General Pershing, the president, and traveling extensively in his retirement.
Strengths: There were a lot of details about how the units were set up, how they lived their daily life, and what happened on the battle field, in the trenches, and in the hospital. Covering the Armistice was particularly brilliant, and the information about Stubby's further career is helpful. The inclusion of pictures brought Stubby to life as well.
Weaknesses: No matter how well written books from a dog's point of view are, there are always moments when it just doesn't quite work for me. However, I did cry at the end! Students will adore this.
What I really think: While there are a couple of other books about Stubby, this one is just the right length and level of detail for somewhat younger readers who are very interested in World War I. There are not nearly as many stories about that war as there are about WWII, so I'm definitely glad to buy this one as well as Judy: Prisoner of War.  Follett has both of these available in prebind.

Sylvie really wants to watch the movie Sgt. Stubby now!

Cube Kid.Tales of an 8-Bit Kitten: Lost in the Nether: An Unofficial Minecraft Adventure
18 September 2018 by Andrews McMeel Publishing
Copy provided by the publisher

 After lengthy discussion with student, I have decided that you REALLY need to have played Minecraft for these to make sense. That's not going to happen in my world, so I will just continue to read these and put them on the library shelves for students to enjoy.

I have a lot of trouble processing the print, which varies in size and color from word to word, like Geronimo Stilton books. Children must enjoy this, but it slows me down quite a bit. Sylvie enjoyed it, even though we both know that cats really want to kill us all!

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