Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Dear Mr. Trump, About those Boxcar Children and Their Dog, . . .

Dear Mr. Trump,

Please don’t get rid of the Department of Education*. Let this be one campaign promise you don’t follow through on. Hopefully, these last few days have whetted your appetite for reading ‘simple stuff,’ because you are so busy: however, it is good to take out 30 minutes a day to exercise, to meditate, or to read. And, if 30 minutes is all you have, there are some great children’s books out there!

Like The Boxcar Children: The Mystery at the Dog Show (#35), by Gertrude Chandler Warner (Albert Whitman & Company, 1993, 121 pages, $4.99)

You might like the Boxcar Children series better than the book about Harry (Harry, the Homeless Puppy) that DogEvals wrote about recently, since there are two boxcar boys. Henry is 14 and Benny is 6, while sisters Violet is 10 and Jessie, 12. Violet loves everything purple and Benny loves to eat!

The kids always get along, even if they are sisters and brothers. Plus, they always solve the mysteries which will stupefy even you! This series is one that even adults will enjoy. And, you can read one in half an hour – say, on Air Force One. Just tell the press corps that you have some crucial reading to do, and then come back relaxed and ready to spar with them!

The Alden children live surreptitiously in a boxcar after they lose their parents because they believe their grandfather is a crotchety old geezer (anyone you might know?) but he really isn’t. He is lovable and when the children finally consent to live with him, he has their old boxcar moved to the backyard to serve as a playhouse.

Mystery at the Dog Show may remind you of Tug of Love, the Puppy Patrol book about a dog show, too. I can’t decide which one I like best but DogEvals’ readers would love to know which one you and Barron like best.

Disappearing dogs, polka-dots popping up all over – on dogs, on ties, on dresses -  a champion golden retriever staying with the boxcar children, the first annual Greenfield Dog Show, a missing assistant, Great Danes and English Bull Terriers, sore losers, a poodle with a striped haircut, tattooed dogs, and a cat? At a dog show? 

If you want to see how all these loose ends get tied up, that’s what reading is for! 

And it’s fun – you get to create the pictures in your mind.

Tomorrow: More Boxcar Children!

Caveat: You can probably find this book at your local public library. Or try a used-books store.

*according to Jenna Johnson, Washington Post, 17 July 16,

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Dear Mr. Trump, Trick or Treat!

Dear Mr. Trump,

Trick or Treat! (a little bit late – or early!)

Trick or Treat is also the title of our Book of the Day that DogEvals is recommending for you and Barron, your son.

If you have time: if you don’t, DogEvals encourages you to make time!  You’ll be glad you did and it will only ‘cost’ you about 30 minutes.

Trick or Treat? (Puppy Patrol: Ghostly Goings-On!), by Jenny Dale (Scholastic, 107 pages, 2001, ages 9 and up), 41st in a series of 45.

Mr. Trump, according to the Washington Post of 27 July and Marc Fisher, you have “no shortage of strong opinions even about books. . .[you have] not read.”

Hopefully you will make known your opinion about this great book to the children of our great country and challenge them to read it before next October (before Trick or Treat time). What a super plot for a children’s book or an adult’s book, one that will keep even you guessing.

The Story

Our young hero Neil is back at home in England, at the King Street Kennels and Rescue with sisters Sarah (‘Squirt’) and Emily, Border Collie Sam, and his family. Just in time for Halloween (does England really have Halloween?), little Emily has a secret friend (Misty). The Kennel is boarding poodle Sapphire when a girl, Helen, brings in a puppy she found who becomes Trick. Unfortunately, Helen and her dad are only in town for a year until he is transferred again and thus can’t keep the pup but she spends as much time with Trick at the kennel as possible and is really good with Trick.

But, . . . .

Strange things start happening. Dogs change kennel runs. Mom’s purse is taken upstairs, the laundry is transferred from the washer to the dryer. By whom?

Training Comments from a Trainer

Granted, these books were written several years ago before positive reinforcement, reward-based, clicker training took hold all over the world, so we can excuse the author for writing about pushing down on a dog’s rear to get a Sit and many other small but old-fashioned ways to train.

However, Trick or Treat is such a super story not only for introducing clicker training* but also for the plot resolutions – good enough to keep an adult interested and one that ties up all the loose ends so well – the strange goings-on, and a solution for both Helen and the puppy she found (which even I didn’t guess).

Go For It!

Mr. Trump, this a really good book for kids, and for adults, and for kids and adults to share: the lessons learned are ones that you and your family can easily implement as role models for the entire nation. And Trick or Treat will only take a half-hour out of your day!

Go for it!

Yours Truly,

Tomorrow: The Boxcar Children

Caveat: You can probably find this book at your local public library. Or try a used-books store.

*“We never actually punish our dogs – instead, we show them what we do want, and reward them.” (page 93). Kudos to author Jenny Dale!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Dear Mr. Trump, Top Dog?

Dear Mr. Trump,

Since you believe “reading long documents is a waste of time, . . . I want it short. There’s no reason to do hundreds of pages. . . . ”* Reading children’s literature is right up your alley so why not start with dog books that you and Barron can both read. For example, Top Dog.

Top Dog (Puppy Patrol: New York’s Finest), by Jenny Dale (Scholastic, 107 pages, 2001, ages 9 and up), 38th in the series of 45.

Mr. Trump, you will love Top Dog not only for the title but also because it takes place in New York City!

Our boy-hero Neil and his sister fly to New York City for a vacation with their former neighbors, Jane and Richard. While sightseeing, they run into a stray dog, a delightful black lab that they can’t get rid of. So they and their taxi driver take care of him temporarily, calling him Bagel. Jane, a dog walker, runs into another dog walker who seems to know their temporary charge but is not well-liked by any of the constantly varying purebred dogs she walks – hmmmm, a mystery, or so it seems. But, on to Coney Island, the Empire State Building, and the Statue of Liberty, all places I’m sure the Trump family has visited.

Meanwhile, our friends read that the Mets’ mascot, a black lab named Joe DiMaggio with a white star on his chest, has gone missing and the baseball team will lose without him.  

How does Neil manage to tie up all these loose ends in time for the Subway Series between the Mets and the Yankees?

When you find out, Mr. Trump, let us at DogEvals know!

Your new pals at DogEvals

Tomorrow: Trick or Treat?

Caveat: You can probably find this book at your local public library. Or try a used-books store.

*Washington Post, 17 July 16, article by Marc Fisher

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Dear Mr. Trump, About Charlie. . . .

Dear Mr. Trump,

If DogEvals has not yet convinced you to pick up a book, even a short one, perhaps Charlie’s Choice will. Marc Fisher wrote in the July 15 edition of the Washington Post, “Trump said he thought about reading . . . , ‘but I don’t have much time, . . .’” he said.

That’s why DogEvals wants you to start by reading children’s books, Mr. Trump. Remember the Reader’s Digest Condensed Books?

Nowadays we even have children’s versions of best sellers and, yes, even adults read them if they don’t have time for the longer adult version. Juvenile versions like Racing in the Rain: My Life as a Dog by Garth Stein
and Ellie’s Story: A Dog’s Purpose Novel (coming out as a movie on the 27th) by W. Bruce Cameron - Bailey’s Story, too.

So, today we have Charlie’s Choice, number 20 in the Puppy Patrol series.

Charlie’s Choice (Puppy Patrol: What Kennel Will He Choose?), by Jenny Dale (Scholastic, 110 pages, 1999, ages 9 and up), number 20 of 25 in a series of 25.

We return to the young British boy Neil whose family owns the King Street Kennels and Rescue. A new boarding kennel, the pink and fancy Pretty Paws Dog Hotel - For the Dog with Taste, opens in the next town: King Street Kennels’ clients including the young golden retriever Charlie are transferring over but the new kennel owners don’t seem to know much about dogs and may not be treating them right. What to do?

A break-in at the new kennel. Perfume and grooming at Pretty Paws. Renovations at the King Street Kennels with a famous dog from Hollywood coming for the dedication. An uninvited cat at a dog training class wrecks havoc at King Street and canine clients run to the competition. An investigative reporter.

How will it all end? To end the suspense, get reading!

Love, your pals at DogEvals

Tomorrow:  Top Dog

Caveat: You can probably find these books at your local public library. Or try a used-books store.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Dear Mr. Trump and Barron, Another Book for You

 Dear Mr. Trump,

Marc Fisher of the Washington Post quotes you on 17 July 2016 as having “said in a series of interviews that . . . [I do] not need to read. . . . “

We here at DogEvals vehemently disagree with this. If you don’t read, you don’t know what you are missing – suspense, comedy, tragedy, knowledge, mystery. You get all this in Tug of Love, a book I know you will want to share with your son Barron. Perhaps he can read it to you!

Tug of Love (Puppy Patrol: Who is Jason’s Real Owner?), by Jenny Dale (Scholastic, 108 pages, 1997, $3.99, ages 9 and up), number 6 in a series of 25 (one book in the series is another Teacher’s Pet, yesterday’s title).

Mr. Trump, you and Barron will love this series, even if it is set in England at King Street Kennels and Rescue, owned by the Parker family (with their son, Neil, his two sisters, Emily and Sarah, and their pet Border Collie).

The town of Padsham is putting on its first annual dog show and one dog loses, much to the disappointment of his owner. A dog runs away at the end of the show. A dog turns up at the King Street Kennels the next day. A yellow Lab. A family comes to claim him; Muttley, a prognosticating canine, is secretly boarded at the Kennels; and a man comes to claim the yellow lab who has already been claimed. Meanwhile, the family mentioned above has moved and left no forwarding address and some kids have to break into school. Into school!

How will it all turn out? Who does the Labrador really belong to?

Ah, suspense in a book. And tragedy? And knowledge and a mystery.

Have we convinced you, Mr. Trump?

Yours Truly,
Your pals at DogEvals.

Tomorrow: Charlie’s Choice

Caveat: You can probably find this book at your local public library. Or try a used-books store.