Sunday, March 31, 2019

Book Review: Caddie, the Golf Dog (dog, pups, girl, boys, golf)

Caddie, the Golf Dog, by Michael Sampson (Walker & Company, 2002, 32 pages, $16.95, ages 3-8, pre-school to grade 3) 

 “Who Gets the Dog?”

Yes, there is a movie, a fun romantic comedy family one, by this name but the movie is not the subject of this review (see that review here) (watch the trailer here). 

Can a stray dog belong to two families and three kids?

If not, who gets the dog? And, who decides?

Two families “want”* one stray dog, each loving her wildly. Two boys in one, a girl in the other – Jon and Josh, and Jennifer.

Should the dog go to the first family to keep her before she spooked in a storm and ran off, or to the family with only one child, or . . . ? (Could this book** possibly be based on a true story?)

The Story

Diamond runs away because she is frightened in a storm - and finds her way to a golf course where she meets the two boys. Shortly thereafter, there are five little puppies who must find new homes. When four of them are given away, the first family comes to see the left-over pup and finds ‘”their” dog. But who gets the dog and who should decide?

A wonderful story about growing up and making good decisions to solve a problem so everyone, including the dog, lives happily ever after. Read Caddie to see the solution.

* Well, actually, the kids all want the dog but both families say they are too busy. . . .

** Amazingly, yes! And this reviewer simply thought the story was so unique - and possible - that when she read that it really is based on a true story involving the author’s sons, she decided to interview the author. Stay tuned to see if she is successful.

The astute youngster who plays golf and loves dogs will pick out this book and be in heaven. He/she will also realize that dogs should not be housed in back yards, that three golfers do not share one set of golf clubs, that dogs (even well-mannered dogs) really don’t belong on a golf course especially when they pick up golf balls! And some of the words are written over (under?) the illustrations, making the story hard to decipher in places. Puppies should stay with their litter (and mom) well after they are six weeks old and should be moved into the house, perhaps the kitchen, rather than staying out in the garage. However, we hope that since Caddie is a true story, perhaps the facts occurred well before the book was written (2002) – perhaps in the 80s when dogs were still often backyard dogs and hadn’t yet become members of the family.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Book Review: Shadow (foster pup, guide dog, boys, girls)

Shadow (The Puppy Place series #3 - Where Every Puppy Finds a Home)*, by Ellen Miles (Scholastic, 2009, 71 pages, $3.99, ages 7-10, grades 2-5)

Along Comes Shadow

The fourth-grade is reading about Helen Keller in school so Lizzie practices being blind at home. She and her younger brother Charles are dog-crazy, along with younger brother Bean who pretends to be a dog. Begging for a full-time dog of their own, they have had to resort to only fostering other dogs a couple of times.

And then - along comes Shadow, their new foster puppy, a 9-week-old smart-as-the-dickens black lab.

After Shadow saves little Bean from falling down the stairs, the kids jot down a list of characteristics the puppy’s new family must have before they give him away (they would never sell him), like a big yard and at least one little kid like the Bean.

We also hear from Shadow (a couple of paragraphs in each chapter) – that he likes kisses and hugs** and especially little boys, and food, of course, and attention.


Lizzie would love a best friend like her brother Charles has, if they can’t have a dog. Maria is a girl in school who seems to know so much about dogs, but Lizzie is the one always talking in Morning Meeting (and interrupting Maria) about how smart Shadow is.

One day, Maria’s mother comes to Morning Meeting (like Show and Tell) with her guide dog!

And would you believe the two girls become best friends as they spend time together convincing the guide dog school what a good guide dog Shadow would be. The only problem is that Shadow must then go to another family who will raise him. Are they willing to give him up to become a guide dog?

*The Puppy Place series is delightful (and short), appealing to both boys and girls.. The same family, not ready for a full-time dog, ends up fostering dogs and finding them forever homes and it is the children who manage to do such a super job at this!

**Although author Miles relates modern, excellent advice about dogs, not many dogs like kisses and hugs like Shadow does so children should not try this. In addition, we now use the term, housetraining, rather than the old-fashioned, housebreaking.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Book Review: Ellie, the Homesick Puppy (girl, new home, pup)

Ellie the Homesick Puppy, by Holly Webb (Scholastic/Tiger Tails, 2018, 124 pages, reading level 2.4, grades 2-3, ages 6-10) 

Comparing Spooky Buddies with Ellie the Homesick Puppy is simple but not easy. Ellie attracts girls (dare I say that today?) with a pink cover and a girl pup named Ellie while Spooky appeals to both boys and girls.

Secondly, Spooky is fast paced with a myriad of characters and plots. Adults get lost in the twists and turns but Ellie is a longer (seemingly) book with one girl and her pup (and ‘fam’ and friend) plus a more realistic story: moving to a new house and neighborhood. Ellie the pup, being a pup, gets in the way of packing and unpacking.

Solution: pack the pup off to Grandma’s for a couple of days until the family gets settled in the new house.

But Megan the girl misses her Ellie pup and Ellie doesn’t understand why she isn’t home. So she decides to do something about it.

A Lovely Story and Lessons to Learn (Seamlessly)

Ellie is a lovely little book: we hear what the pup is thinking and Megan, about 7, is a good and caring ‘big sister’ to her pup. The story can teach so many of life’s lessons to help a youngster make it through the tough times. Only a couple of little details would a dog trainer suggest differently.

On the whole, kids will want to read other books in the series about dogs (or cats, even!) Books like Jessie the Lonely Puppy or
Max the Missing Puppy or
The Lost Puppy or
even The Rescued Puppy.

Sometimes Illustrations Make the Book

Cute is the word to describe these illustrations and those in The Scruffy Puppy, The Secret Puppy, and The Seaside Puppy.

Sophy Williams has several drawings in each book.

 Author Holly Webb Loves Dogs (and Cats)

One in a series of books about puppies, in the Pet Rescue Adventures Animal Books, the pup books also include cat books. We especially are interested in reading
The Abandoned Puppy, or
Sam the Stolen Puppy, or
Buttons the Runaway Puppy. 
Maybe, The Secret Puppy or
The Forgotten Puppy or
Harry the Homeless Puppy.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Book Review: Two's Company (guide dog, boy, girl, dog walk)

Two’s Company: Every Dog Needs a Friend! (Puppy Patrol #31 of 46) by Jenny Dale (Scholastic, 2003, 106 pages, $3.99, grades 3-5)

Here we have a new kid in school with an older sister Charlie who is blind and has a new service dog Chloe. The mom is overprotective of her daughter and doesn’t think the guide dog is reliable, while her son feels very left out, particularly since, due to the move, he had to give up his own dog.

We find service dog Jasmine living alone in a retirement home: her handler has just died so she is moved temporarily in King Street Kennel, the boarding kennel owned by the family of Neil, 12, and his sister Emily, 11 – two very resourceful British kids who actually get along! Jasmine herself, a Labrador, is nearly of retirement age herself. (Another sub-plot involves how Dad falls and injures his back, thus being unable to work at the kennel.)

Old Mrs. Atkinson had to give up her dog for financial reasons but recently came into an inheritance so was considering another dog – but not a rowdy puppy at her age!

Author Jenny Dale has the ability to weave in a major plot and a couple of minor ones but leaves you guessing for a while as to which one is the crux of the story. Eventually, all plots arrive at a rather satisfying conclusion as Neil and Emily manage to teach other kids and even adults a few lessons in living graciously. Adults apologize, kids make new friends, and it is the kids who teach the adults (and other kids) a thing or two.

What is a Guide Dog?

The reader will learn so much about what guide dogs can do for a blind person, much of which is based upon trust between dog and person. The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (the school for future guide dogs) happens to be located in the next town over from our young people who eventually organize a fundraiser for the school – a 12-mile dog walk!

But not all is entirely heavenly in the end. There may be a partially unsolved minor plot that nevertheless is almost concluded or at least improved, such as the case of serious sibling rivalry.

The best quote, on page 53, is spoken by Charlie: “Maybe I don’t always want the most important thing about me to be that I’m blind.” And that may just be the most important take-home lesson in Two’s Company - besides letting go. There is so much in this short little children’s book to think about. . . . and who are the “two” in Two’s Company?

DogEvals has reviewed other books by Jenny Dale over the years (Trick or Treat, Top Dog, About Charlie. Puppy School, . . . , and Tug of Love) and Two’s Company is just as good if a bit more complex and grown-up in its treatment for both boys and girls.