Sunday, January 23, 2022

Beginning Reader Dog Books

Winston, Sherri. Catastrophe: Wednesday and Woof #1
April 5th 2022 by HarperCollins
E Book versions out now
ARC provided by Young Adult Books Central

Walia Nadir and her dog Woof have formed the Wednesday Detective Society, spurred on by her admiration of her Aunt Nalia, who is a detective in their Michigan town. Woof is Walia's assistance dog and helps her navigate the world with Juvenile Arthritis. This doesn't slow Walia down much, but her parents are often concerned that she is overdoing it and not getting enough rest. When Mrs. Winter's cat, Autumn, goes missing, the two are on the case. It's not easy to solve, but they gather clues, deal with the obnoxious bully Anita, skateboarding boys, and eventually are able to save the day. What will their next adventure be?

Walia is a fun character who provides us witha great deal of information about her condition, but this is delivered in support of the plot instead of in info dumps. I can't think of another book character who faces the same medical challenge. Her friend Belinda, her supportive parents, and her grandfather all give her help and good advice. I wasn't as big a fan of the nasty Anita, who made fun of Walia's need for a support animal.

There's a good mix of pleasant illustrations (which will be in full color in the final edition) and a comfortable amount of text, making this a great choice for strong first grade readers, but with enough engaging details to delight older elementary school students as well. There are a few supplemental activities at the back of the book.

Fans of Winston's own Jada Sly, Butler's fun Kayla and King, Sobol's classic Encyclopedia Brown, and the various younger permutations of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys will enjoy this beginning reader neighborhood mystery series. The next book, New Pup on the Block, will be published in April, 2022.

Butler, Dori Hillestad. Dear Beast: Simon Sleeps Over
February 8th 2022 by Holiday House
ARC provided by Young Adult Books Central

In this early chapter book, we meet Andy, whose parents are not together. He has a pet dog, Baxter, at his mother's house, and a pet cat, Simon, at his father's. When his mother goes out of town on business, Andy and Baxter (aka Beast) have to sleep over at his father's. Simon is kept in the basement so that the two pets can be introduced to each other slowly. Simon starts a correspondence with Beast, telling him the proper way to do things. In order to make amends, Beast leaves liver treats along with his notes, but Simon claims not to like these. The two have an adversarial relationship, but slowly warm to each other. Their reactions to a terrible storm help solidify their friendship. Correspondence from other creatures in the area, such as Cheeks the squirrel, Stinky the Skunk, and Bubbles the fish is included as well. 

Beast's grammar and spelling are not as good as Simon's, but his enthusiasm for his significant life change is good to see. Simon is curmudgeonly and catlike, so is not enjoying being kept in the basement, liver treats or no! 

The letter format might encourage younger readers to start writing notes and letters of their own, and it would be delightful if they aslo illustrated their epistles. Atteberry's illustrations show a great range of amusing facial expressions on the pets, and are in full color. I love the pops of teal, mauve, and apple green. 

Beast's spelling difficulties are given an entire glossary at the back of the book as a "Doggy Dictionary", which seems a bit unusual for a beginning reader book. Beginning readers might be interested in correcting Beast's spelling, and the phonetic spellings might be easier for them. 

Animal stories are always popular with younger readers, and this book will appeal to reader who enjoyed Cronin's Chicken Squad, DiCamillo's Mercy Watson, Elliott's Owl Diaries and Messner's Ranger in Time, as well as this author's own Kayla and King series.

Ms. Yingling

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