Yesterday, I posted my review of the heartwarming A Dog's Way Home (which I'm also giving away), and I'm lucky enough to have Bobbie Pyron stopping by today to tell us a few of her favorite dog books. I love dogs myself, as you all know, and some of these I've read and others I haven't. Enjoy!
(My apologies for the strange font changes. Blogger did not like the document Bobbie sent)
As a passionate dog person, dog writer and librarian, I often get asked what my favorite dog books are. Not surprisingly, I have lots! I will also admit to not reading books with characters other than dogs—at least not normally. I know there’s lots of wonderful books out there with cats, rabbits, mice, and especially horses as main characters. But I’m a true blue dog person.
With one recent exception. I was very lucky to receive from my editor of A Dog’s Way Home an amazing book called The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate. Does that name ring a bell? That’s because Ms Applegate is the author of the wildly popular “Animorphs” series. This new book of hers doesn’t come out until January of 2012, but I’ll give you a little sneak peak.
This is the story of a gorilla named Ivan who has lived most of his life in a cage as the main attraction at a roadside zoo. He has never seen another gorilla, except on TV. Despite his heritage as a proud silverback male gorilla, Ivan feels there’s really nothing he can do to change his life. Until he makes a promise to two elephants—one old, and one a baby. This is a book that made me laugh and cry and hug to my chest when I finished it. The One and Only Ivan has Newbery written all over it!
Now on to dog books!
· Because of Winn Dixie, by Kate DiCamillo
Just last night, I had a lengthy conversation with a 5th grader at the library about how wonderful Kate DiCamillo is and, more specifically, her wonderful Because of Winn Dixie. In Because of Winn Dixie, Opal and her father, the preacher, move to Naomi, Florida, Opal goes into the Winn-Dixie supermarket — and comes out with a dog. With the help of her new pal, whom she names Winn-Dixie, Opal makes a variety of new, interesting friends and spends the summer collecting stories about them and thinking about her absent mother. But because of Winn-Dixie, or perhaps because she has grown, Opal learns to let go, just a little, and that friendship — and forgiveness — can sneak up on you like a sudden summer storm. Recalling the fiction of Harper Lee and Carson McCullers, here is a funny, poignant, and unforgettable coming-of-age novel. My young friend and I agreed the book is a million zillion times better than the movie!
Given that my young patron loved Kate DiCamillo’s books, I recommended to her one of my other favorite authors, Sharon Creech. I added to her growing stack of books Love that Dog. Written in free verse, Love that Dog is told from the view point of Jack. Jack hates poetry. Only girls write it and every time he tries to, his brain feels empty. But his teacher, Ms. Stretchberry, won’t stop giving her class poetry assignments—and Jack can’t avoid them. But then something amazing happens. The more he writes, the more he learns he does have something to say, especially when it comes to a certain dog.
With a fresh and deceptively simple style, acclaimed author Sharon Creech tells a story with enormous heart. Love That Dog shows how one boy finds his own voice with the help of a teacher, a writer, a pencil, some yellow paper, and of course, a dog.
Okay, so you know this name as the author of the Babysitter’s Club series, right? But she’s also the author of some amazing, beautifully written novels for middle graders and teens, including A Dog’s Life. Normally, I don’t like “talking dog” stories: I find them too precious. But Martin tells this dog’s story in a voice that is both dignified and true. Squirrel is not like most dogs. Born a stray, she must make her own way in the world, facing busy highways, changing seasons, and humans both gentle and brutal. Her life story, in her own words, is marked by loss, but also by an inspiring instinct to survive. And when it seems she will roam the woods and country roads alone forever, Squirrel makes two friends who, in very different ways, define her fate. This is not a bouncy, easy story. I tend to recommend it to older middle graders or dog-loving teens and adults. It is a haunting and hopeful story.
Martin has since written a sequel to A Dog’s Life titled Everything for a Dog.
· Lassie Come-Home, by Eric Knight
Any discussion of favorite dog books of mine would be pointless without this classic. This is the original Lassie Come-Home, published in the 1930s and set in Scotland. There is no Timmy forever falling down wells and getting trapped in abandoned mines in this book. Just one very devoted, much-loved collie trying to make her way back home through the wilds of the Scottish highlands. It is an absolute must for any dog lover of any age.
Thanks for stopping by, Bobbie! Don't forget to enter my giveaway for a copy of A Dog's Way Home!