Saturday, November 19, 2022

Paws: Mindy Makes Some Space

Fairbairn, Nathan and Assarasakorn, Michele (illus.)
Paws: Mindy Makes Some Space (PAWS #2)    
November 15th 2022 by Razorbill
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

In Gabby Gets it Together Mindy Kim, Gabby Jordan, and Priya Gupta form their dog walking business, Pretty Awesome Walkers, because they all love dogs but cannot have pets in their homes for various reasons. While Priya loves sports and Gabby loves reading, Mindy's life revolves her mother and her phone. Mindy and her mother often hang out together, reading and watching movies. When the two are out, they run into a man, Mike, who is walking his cat, Chonk. Her mother and Mike bond over the shared love of a video game, and soon Mindy feels like a third wheel when she has to go along on dates with her mother. She also feels awkward at school when there is a new student at Charlotte Bronte Elementary, Hazel. Mindy and Gabby are soon sitting at a table with Hazel, who is also really interested in walking dogs. The girls need to increase their client base as former clients no longer their services, but Mindy is increasingly distracted by her mother's new relationship and her jealousy at Hazel's inclusion in the group. At one point, Mindy leaves Hazel to walk Chonk alone. Chonk crawls off into a bush to sleep, and since Hazel is in a wheelchair, she is stuck on the sidewalk until the girls come back to get her. Will they all be able to reach some kind of agreement so that they can all get along and keep the business going?
Strengths: It is always good to see children navigating the experience of parents who are dating, since I think that is an experience that many have that is not reflected as much in literature. The friend drama is a constant draw, so while it is great that Mindy and Gabby were so welcoming to Hazel, it's also understandable that Mindy felt left out. Hazel's use of a wheelchair comes up in a natural way and is handled well by the girls. The dogs are adorable, the details of the girls' home and school life add a lot to the story, and the illustration style will appeal to readers who like Victoria Jamieson's and Raina Telgemeier's books.
Weaknesses: I'm personally not a fan of the manga style overemoting when the character's eyes bug out and their faces are red, and that happened a lot, especially since Mindy was struggling with several issues. Younger readers won't care, but it struck me the way that ALL CAPS TEXTS do. Also, a mother that plays video games while her daughter needed attention? This made my brain implode a bit. 
What I really think: I need to make gamja bokkeum (potatoes fried with onions, garlic, soy sauce, and sugar) for dinner! I enjoyed this one, even though there are quite a number of books with children who walk dogs. Do tweens not babysit anymore? That was the main source of income for me and my friends; everyone walked their own dogs.                  

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