Saturday, February 19, 2022

Elmer and the Talent Show

Robertshaw, D., Danta, R.Velásquez, and Catrinella, L. (Illustrations)
Elmer and the Talent Show (Life in the Doghouse #1)
February 1st 2022 by Aladdin

Benny’s father is a writer, and his mother is in the military, so they move frequently. Benny has had a hard time fitting in with his classmates, and his parents think it would help if he had a dog. They go to Danny and Ron’s rescue, and Benny has his heart set on a German Shepherd puppy, although Elmer, a ten year old dachshund who was badly neglected and whose tongue sticks out because of a broken jaw, has his heart set on this family to adopt him. When the parents come back to get the puppy, they see Elmer and are moved enough by his story that they bring him home. Benny is a bit reluctant, but bonds with the dog. The parents enrol the two in a dog agility class so that Benny can meet other children, and he gets along well with the outgoing and enthusiastic Kitts, whose dog, Coda, helps Elmer with some of the tasks in class. Unfortunately, the boys at school whom Benny would like to befriend make fun of Kitts, and Benny stands by and doesn’t stick up for her. The two manage to make up, and work with Elmer to help him participate in an agility competition.
Strengths: Since I adopted my dog Pongo when he was ten, I am a softie for any story that encourages readers to look at older dogs before they adopt or buy a puppy. Benny’s apprehension is understandable, but I liked how realistically the story unfolded, and how he found many things to like about Elmer. This story is based on a real case, and on a real rescue organization, Danny and Ron’s Rescue. (
Weaknesses: The ending was a bit pat, with the boys who made fun of Kitts not only wanting to be Benny’s friend, but Kitts’ as well.
What I really think: This is too young for my students, but is an excellent choice for fans of Miles’ Puppy Place books, Barkley and Bishop’s Critter Club, or Stier’s A Dog’s Day books.

A shout out to Ohio Fuzzy Pawz, a fantastic organization that fostered Pongo when he ended up in a shelter after the death of his owner. They take a lot of trouble to match the right dog with the right owner, and I'm happy to say that Pongo has been a great companion for almost a year! 

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