Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Stick Dog Comes to Town

Watson, Tom. Stick Dog Comes to Town (Stick Dog #12)
September 14th 2021 by HarperCollins
E ARC provided by the Publisher

It's cold and snowy, and the dogs are having trouble staying warm in their pipe, and also having trouble finding food. While Stick Dog now feels that he is able to get occasionall assistance from Lucy, the German shepherd at Mike's Magnificent Meats, he prefers that he and his friends manage to take care of themselves. Luckily, Karen comes back with a report of odd pine cones on a tree in town, and the group takes off to investigate. They find that the objects hanging from trees are minty (like plants near the pipe) as well as sweet (like the candy they got at Halloween), so start to eat a number of them while staying underneath the tree, where it is cozy. Unfortunately, humans start to gather around the tree, trapping the dogs, but they are able to gather helpful information. They have found candy canes, and also learn a bit about this weird guy named Santa Claus, who spies on people and can't make up his mind whether or not to stay in town. Karen starts to feel unwell after ingesting so much sugar, so the group heads to Mike's to get some other food for her. Lucy obliges by providing some beef jerky, and also gives them more information about Santa and odd human Christmas traditions. They dogs then decide to put up a tree and try to direct Santa to their home with tin foil, putting out boots instead of socks and going to sleep with dreams of  beefy goodness dancing in their heads. Will Santa be able to find them?

Stick Dog is a great character who understands humans a bit better than his friends Karen, Poo-Poo, Stripes, and Mutt, and uses his caring nature and intelligence to broaden their experiences and provide them with interesting food. I'm glad that the pack from the pipe is able to experience another holiday, since they had so much fun at Halloween, and their take on some of the more questionable traditions is perfectly reasonable. Lucy, who has a permanent human and more interaction with people, is helpful in shedding light on many features of the season. 

The enthusiasm with which the dogs great every challenge is admirable, even if it is misguided. Karen really comes into her own in this book, and isn't just getting hopped up on caffeine or contemplating the nature of rain puddles. She's determined to celebrate Christmas even though she doesn't really understand it. The other dogs help in predictable ways (decorating the tree with objects shaken out of their fur, or deciding to head butt everything), but Karen has many fairly good ideas in this installment, even though it is Stick Dog's ingenuity that makes things happen. The dogs at an Easter egg hunt could be hysterical, and I know there are supposed to be three more books. 

Stick Dog books makes most readers happy, unless their souls are dead, and are a particular favorite with stressed eighth graders and those who enjoy Pichon's Tom Gates books, Falatko's Two Dogs in a Trenchcoat, or Selfors' Wedgie and Gizmo. I would definitely be giving these as gifts if I had small or medium sized children in my life, and they lend themselves to great themed packages; this one begs to be given with some candy canes!

If you haven't read any of these, start now!

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