Sunday, June 13, 2021

Luna Howls at the Moon

Tubb, Kristin O'Donnell. Luna Howls at the Moon
June 15th 2021 by Katherine Tegen Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Luna is a therapy dog who works with Tessa, who counsels children in Austin, Texas. Beatrice, Amelia, Hector, and Caleb all are in therapy with Tessa for various reasons. When they all come together for a group session in order to work on interpersonal skills, things are a bit rocky. Amelia has been traumatized by a house fire and doesn't talk, Caleb is very particular about the way he does things and is dealing with his parents' divorce, and Beatrice has some emotional and behavioral issues after the death of her grandmother. Hector claims that he has made a hover board, but the others don't believe him, and when he doesn't show up for the next group session, the children are disappointed. When the parents are loudly voicing their displeasure with the group session and Tessa goes to quiet them, the children decide to run away from the church basement where they are meeting to find him at a place they think he will be, having checked his Instagram account. Luna (from whose point of view the book is told) is uncomfortable with them running away, since it is his responsibility to take care of them. The park where Hector is supposed to be is quite some distance, and as they make their way there, the children must work together and support each other in the very way that Tessa hopes they would in their group sessions. Along with an irascible cat called Sandpaper, they deal with Caleb missing his hand sanitizer, parents who are following them by GPS, a coyote attack, and a two teenagers who threaten them. Through it all, they get a good tour of an interesting city, bond with each other, and learn to trust others to help them. Luna is a comforting presence throughout and fulfills her duty of keeping the children safe. 
Strengths: I will probably never go to Austin, but Tubb makes it seem like an interesting city. I found the moon towers especially intriguing! The reasons for the children leaving and going on their adventure are solid, and they do well under Beatrice's leadership at getting across the city. The way the stories are revealed slowly is interesting, and Luna's voice, while very dog like (No one has a plastic bag for the poop? What are the humans thinking?), also captures the shades of emotion in an innovative way. The threats they face are scary but not impossible, although I did worry when Luna got her foot caught in a waterway! The parents are realistically concerned, and their fears about group counseling are assuaged by the adventure. The cover alone will sell this book to dog-obsessed readers, especially since nothing bad happens to Luna!
Weaknesses: After reading the author's forward, I thought there would be more information about the therapy with Tessa, like in Gerber's Focused. While therapy was the reason the children came together, and they did gain some skills during their traversing of the city, this is much more of an adventure book. Also, I don't believe that Beatrice found HeeHaw overalls on E Bay for $12. (I looked this up because I HAD a pair of these in 4th grade, which would have been 1974! The cheapest pair I saw today were $85!)
What I really think: Luna is a great addition to dog books like this author's Zeus: Dog of Chaos and A Dog Like Daisy, or Hoyle's Stella and Bauer's Raising Lumie

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