Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Book Review (OT): Green Sun (inner city police, veteran)

Green Sun, by Kent Anderson (Hatchette, 2018, 339 pages, $29.95), third in the trilogy: Sympathy for the Devil and Night Dogs* were the first two, respectively.

A Different Kind of Cop Story

A different kind of cop story, Green Sun is the third in a fictionalized trilogy, based loosely on author Kent Anderson’s past careers – Anderson, a Viet Nam veteran who then taught English at a university, joined the Portland, OR, police department and finally, the (East) Oakland PD. The trilogy mirrors his life so the reader wonders what is real and what is fiction. But, no matter.

Considering Redeployment and its surprising success**,
I suspect that Green Sun, though ‘different,’ will be as successful. Never sure if it’s fiction or not, you will soon be hooked on Green Sun’s writing style - calming yet suspenseful and with linearity though oh-so-so slow in getting to the plot, reminiscent of Sue Grafton though with less action and more character development as you come to like Hanson, the older rookie in the police department. Anderson will reveal to you the entire scene – with smells as well as sights, with feelings and even tastes.

You hope Hanson stays honorable but you are not sure you can identify with him, even though he knows just what to say and can talk the bad guys down: in addition, his shooting aim is right on, thanks to having been a Marine – these characteristics separate him from other officers and cause a rift as does Hanson’s turning his eyes from infractions of stupid laws.

The Protagonist

Our ‘hero’ is a modern-day complex man, forged by war where everything is black and white so, of course he gravitates to police departments but finds the OPD more complex than the military, as many veterans do. His sense of duty and fairness is tinged with a (slight) lack of respect and he sees good in the bad guys so he is hated, feared, yet nevertheless placed on a pedestal by fellow police officers – yet he is a loner. He walks a tightrope and lives a risky life, vulnerable to both sides.


Readers of every ilk will find much to discuss, debate, and explore, especially if they come from different backgrounds – the military (both those experiencing combat and those not), the police, management, anyone living in inner-city Baltimore or Washington DC, anyone feeling they are slightly outside the box.

Readers who have such experience will relate their experiences and those to whom the book is foreign will ask what parts could be reality.

I foresee arguments in book clubs and I would perhaps recommend a social worker be present – or at least a librarian – to bring out similar feelings evoked and experiences shared by all.

**Redeployment by Phil Klay, 2015, winner of the 2014 National Book Award for Fiction, the Chautauqua Prize, and the John Leonard First Book Prize.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Book Review: Rescue and Jessica (a girl and her service dog)

Rescue and Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes, illustrated by Scott Magoon (Candlewick Press, 2018, 32 pages, $12.14, ages 5 and up, kindergarten and up)

 A story for the young with a back-story for the not-so-young!

Did you notice that a girl named Jessica is featured in the title and the book was written by someone also named Jessica? What a coincidence, you think. But, after reading Jessica Kensky’s Rescue and Jessica, you will find out if it truly is a coincidence.

Meet Rescue and. . . .

Rescue, a black lab pup, was training to be a guide dog, the family business, when he was transferred into the service dog training program instead – better suited for him, they said, but quite a disappointment to the young pupster*.

At the same time, a young girl was in the hospital waiting to have a leg amputated. Jessica meets a service dog and decides to apply for one, a life-changing decision for her and for her “service dog to be.”

Both pup and girl wonder at the changes soon to come: would they succeed**?

 Love At First Sight – Puppy Love, That Is!

The answer to the ‘success’ question is a resounding YES! And Rescue thinks, “I’m so proud of us!”

Rescue is a very special service dog and also an emotional support animal whose friendship with Jessica is a true lesson in love. And Rescue is the best medicine.

Who is Jessica and Is Rescue a Real Dog?

Jessica is a former nurse who was injured in the 2013 Boston Marathon, and, yes, Rescue is a real dog – but not only a real dog. He is also a real service dog: Jessica’s real service dog.

Rescue was also chosen as the ASPCA 2017 Dog of the Year.

Notes from the Reviewer

I don’t know why I like this book so much. But I do.

The illustrations are warm and water-colored (I love the back cover – Rescue in his doghouse [Rescue HQ] with crutches standing by),
some pages have one detailed large picture while others have three, and the story alternates between Rescue’s story and Jessica’s until they meet.

Perhaps most of all, because this reviewer is also a dog trainer, the authors mention that Jessica makes time each day to let Rescue be – just a dog. And they snuggle.


*What’s the difference between a guide dog and a service dog? Besides the training and skills, a guide dog walks in front of his person while a service dog walks beside his person."

**At graduation, NEADS, Rescue and Jessica’s service dog training organization,
switches the dog’s blue training vest for a red one. Can you find the page where Rescue finally succeeds?

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Book Review: Good Rosie! (JRT, dog park, making friends, children's book)

Good Rosie! by Kate DiCamillo with pictures by Harry Bliss (Candlewick Press, 2018, 32 pages, $13.98, ages 5 and up, kindergarten and up) DiCamillo is a two-time Newbery Medal winner.
DogEvals selected Good Rosie! to review because author Kate DiCamillo is a Newbery Medal award winner (Because of Winn-Dixie) and we simply love New Yorker cartoonist Harry Bliss’ books Bailey
and Bailey at the Museum!
A Big Book

Good Rosie! is written in nine parts, from The Bowl, The Clouds, Something New, Wanna Play?, Drop It!, Somebody does Something, Three Tiny Stones, How do You do It?, and The Friends.

Delightfully Educational

Rosie is a good dog (but lonely) who lives with old George. One day they go to the dog park but Rosie doesn’t know how to make dog friends and play with them. She meets huge dog Maurice and tiny dog Fifi and what the huge dog does to the tiny dog will surprise you.

Fertile Discussions

Rosie learns how to play with her new dog friends and so do yippy Fifi and loud Maurice: all are different and all have trouble making new friends but manage to succeed by the end of the story. In addition, George uses a cane.

Children who are new to a school may soon identify with one of the dogs and learn this book by heart - and take it to heart. Your child may also start noticing people with canes, and notice that they can do everything.

Good Rosie! is a book for the young with wonderful illustrations, lessons that sneak up on you, a mid-book surprise and tiny shiny stones.

And, finally, from the dog trainer. . . .

Dear authors, please don’t let your human characters read a book at the dog park. Please don’t let them chastise their dogs for growling at another dog – they are afraid, not bad or impolite. Thanks!

Monday, December 3, 2018

More About Lost Souls. . . .

Lost Souls: Found! Inspiring Stories about Pit Bulls, by Kyla Duffy and Lowrey Mumford (Happy Tails Books, 2012 (PB), 144 pages, $12.95)

Yup! As soon as we published the previous review, we realized we had wanted to highlight the person who wrote the foreward – Linda Blair of movie fame (Oscar-nominated for The Exorcist).
Linda has always loved and lived with animals and in 2004 created the non-profit organization, the Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation (on Facebook, too) in California
that takes in abused, neglected and mistreated pit bulls and other pets, feeds and socializes them then puts them up for adoption to the right families.
Blair is a vegetarian-turned vegan author (Going Vegan!)*
who can be found interviewing perspective adopters for an hour to make just the right match!

Blair wrote an inspiring foreward to Lost Souls: Found! Inspiring Stories about Pit Bulls (see previous review). She describes how she and her dog were returning home from a walk when they find they are being followed by a pit bull. They race home to safety and look out the window to see the dog relaxing in their front yard. Eventually he made it into their home and heart by lying down behind the couch after playing a round of the zoomies with Blair’s own pup. Like Buster Brown and Our Gang’s own Petey, Blair’s new family member soon changed her life for the better.

“I hope these passionate accounts will inspire you to lend a hand, whether that means donating to Pit Bull rescue, fostering, adopting, or simply correcting others who wish to slander these dogs. Every little bit counts, and each one of us who commits to correcting the way these dogs have been wronged will be another breath of wind that turns the tide of justice.” (p. 12)

Just as Linda Blair has found her second career, you, too can help dogs find their second (and forever) home. Start by reading this book!

*available on Amazon