Tag Archive | dogs

Who is spying on her & The Watcher in wartime? by Joan Hiatt Harlow (book review)

book cover of The Watcher by Joan Hiatt Harlow published by McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com From Maine to Berlin,
from suspected to suspicious,
and someone is watching her…

Nothing that this young American teen thought she knew about her family is true – Mom and Dad aren’t her parents, glamorous Aunt Adrie is her mother… and a German spy! And what a terrible truth she discovers about the Lebensborn nursery where she is required to volunteer.

Find this 2015 paperback (or 2014 hardcover) at your local library or independent bookstore.  Be sure to also grab the companion book Shadows on the Sea (my no-spoiler review here) to discover how Wendy finds herself in this perilous situation in the first place.

How far would you go to stand up for your beliefs?
**kmm

Book info: The Watcher / Joan Hiatt Harlow. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2014 (paperback, 2015).  [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Kidnapped from America by her German spy ‘aunt’ and taken to Berlin, Wendy learns of her real parentage, encounters the people spying on her, and must decide which path to follow during World War II.

After rescuing a puppy who failed SS police dog school, Wendy walks in the park near Adrie’s house, where she and Watcher meet Barret and his seeing-eye dog – at last, someone who speaks English and doesn’t scorn her for living in America!

The young man’s grandfather says Wendy’s father wasn’t a German officer, as Adrie claims…
Frau Messner says the children at the Lebensborn nursery are orphans; Johanna says they were stolen from parents in occupied countries because they look so Aryan…
Oh, no! Was that White Rose anti-Nazi pamphlet still in Wendy’s coat pocket when she fell terribly ill??

Wendy becomes convinced that she must escape from Nazi Germany in this suspenseful tale which follows the events in Shadows on the Sea.

E for Margarita Engle’s novel-in-verse Mountain Dog (book review)

book cover of Mountain Dog by Margarita Engle published by Henry Holt Books for Young ReadersDogs who fight.
Dogs who save.
People worth saving?

As frightened Tony, calm great-uncle Tio, and eager search-dog-in-training Gabe learn how to live together in the mountains, the lyrical musings of boy and dog bring us the highs and lows of life without Mom.

Read Tony’s impressions of meeting Gabe for the first time here, then visit your local library or independent bookstore to get Mountain Dog  so you can read Gabe’s all-dog responses to having a new guy to love (and to teach to scratch him in just the right place) and to roam with in the Sierra Nevada forest.

Can you hear poetry from the animals in your life?
**kmm

Book info: Mountain Dog / Margarita Engle; illustrations by Olga & Aleksey Ivanov. Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, 2013. [author site]  [artists’ site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Tony isn’t sure about living with his great-uncle in a mountain cabin while his mom is in jail – until the eleven year old meets new search-and-rescue dog Gabe.

As he gets used to whispering pines instead of gunshots and arguments, Tony helps Tio train Gabe to search on command and makes friends at the old country school.

Tony’s mom made dogs fight for money; her uncle Tio helps dogs rescue the lost as a volunteer. Tio escaped from Cuba and poverty; can Tony escape the barrio forever?

Maybe tail-wagging Gabe can rescue Tony from his sadness…

Alternating chapters bring reflections from Tony and from Gabe as this novel-in-verse explores choice, forgiveness, and hope. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Nix Minus One, by Jill MacLean (book review) – save his sister, a dog, himself?

book cover of Nix Minus One by Jill MacLean published by Pajama PressA dog, beaten and ignored.
A girl, risking and reckless.
A boy who must step out of his safe-place to save them…

I lived in Newfoundland in early grade school (on a now-closed Air Force base), so I have a strong mental picture of the isolated small coastal town that Roxy longs to escape, where Nix’s solitary ways are known to everyone, where a story can never be untold.

Request this novel-in-verse from your local library or independent bookstore; they might have to order it (Pajama Press is a small Canadian firm, not one of the “Big 5”), but it’s so worth waiting for!

Have you ever felt like the only person who could fix a situation?
**kmm

Book info: Nix Minus One / Jill MacLean. Pajama Press, 2013.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Nix helps hide Roxy’s wild nightlife from their parents, like he wants to help the mistreated dog he meets, but the consequences may be too much for the quiet teen to handle.

Now that cod fishing is done for good, coastal Newfoundland towns are shrinking fast, but there are still enough bullies at the regional high school to taunt Nix about his weight and red hair. All the ninth grader wants to do is be left alone to play video games and work in Dad’s furniture workshop, pretending that beautiful Loren will pay attention to him some day.

Just by chance, he sees a beaten and half-starved dog at a neighbor’s house and wishes yet again that Mom would have let them have one instead of worrying about clean floors. Maybe the old grump will let Nix walk the dog, just to get her out of that poop-strewn yard full of junk.

Big sister Roxy decides to party with a senior and expects Nix to cover for her when she misses curfew. Their conservative parents warily respect his smooth manners and rich family, but have no idea that he’s the area go-to-guy for drugs. Everyone at school knows Bryan will dump her after a few weeks… everyone but Roxy.

Nix finally coaxes the dog into walking up into the hills with him, occasionally meeting classmate Blue when she’s birdwatching, both laughing about how they’ll never be popular at school with these hobbies.

And then that rainy night, when Roxy doesn’t come home, when silence becomes the fourth person at their dinner table…

Why couldn’t Nix keep his sister safe?
Why can’t he get Twig away from the master who mistreats her?
Why can’t he make Mom and Dad happy?

This powerful novel-in-verse echoes with the rhythms of family life, school tensions, unexpressed dreams and desires, and a long-hidden story that suddenly re-orients everything that Nix ever knew. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

W for Widdershins and witches – Body of Water, by Sarah Dooley (book review)

book cover of Body of Water by Sarah Dooley published by Fiewel and FriendsWednesday – her home is gone in minutes.
Wondering why her best friend has gone into hiding.
Widdershins, her wonderful dog – gone forever?

Why can’t people just be nice when they don’t understand someone? As nature-centered Wiccans, Ember’s family stands out too much in this small Southern town, no matter how quiet they are. Her mom reads tarot cards for townspeople who call her a witch behind her back and won’t even say hello to her at the store. Ember uses her spells only for peace, for clarity, to ward off Ivy’s nightmares.

Her continuing search for loyal dog Widdershins – “who was a good dog and came when I called her – six times out of ten” – and for objects that the fire left behind brings her close enough to former best friend Anson’s place every week that he might speak to her, tell her why he set the fire… but his silence is very, very loud.

Float out on the lake with Ember, find balance and clarity on her favorite Body of Water, feel how being homeless doesn’t mean being hopeless.
**kmm

Book info: Body of Water / Sarah Dooley. Fiewel and Friends, 2011. [author’s website] [publisher site]

My Recommendation: Three hours after the fire, Ember wonders if Anson did it, if her best friend torched her family’s trailer house everything they owned, if that would keep his father from doing worse things to them for their beliefs.

Just because folks in the little Southern town call them witches doesn’t make them bad people. Dad calls their beliefs Wicca, Mom says not-quite-Wicca and teaches young teen Ember spells for clarity and balance with nature and peace. She also says that revenge is a bad seed to plant in your mind as it just might take root in your heart.

So now they’re homeless, Mom and Dad and Ember and little sister Ivy. She can’t find her dog Widdershins, and big brother Isaac is away at college. No room in Grandma’s tiny apartment, as if that devout lady would welcome her pagan son and family anyway, so eventually they find themselves at Goose Landing Campground, beside the lake where Grandpa drowned, the event that stopped Mom and Dad’s wanderings.

Ember ventures back to her burned-out home every week, searching for things that the fire might have spared – half a pair of Mom’s sewing scissors, a soup ladle – and for Widdershins. She mourns the loss of her spell journal, of Ivy’s random collections, of her former best friend. The only place she finds peace is floating far out in the center of the lake, where the water and the sky hold her.

And now it’s time for school to start. How can Ember and Ivy attend when their address is a pup tent, when they have no notebooks or decent clothes? Can they ever find a place to live when Dad can’t find a job? Did Widdershins perish in the fire or run away to find a safe home? Will Ember even be able to speak to Anson when she sees him again?

A story that circles back again and again to home and family and hope, Body of Water brings readers along on Ember’s search for clarity and balance and peace. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

D is Dying to Tell Me (fiction) – hearing the dead, dog on a mission

D for a dying man, red flashes of light,
D for dread, cold whispers of wind on a still night…
Approaching the old stone jail cell, Sasha’s visions get worse.
Red flashes, a dying man,
The past or the future??

Do you believe in messages from beyond the grave? Are premonitions true indicators of what may happen in the future? Can there be mental communication between people and animals?

Moving to a strange small town is bad enough, but being immediately tagged as the policeman’s kids and mostly shunned makes it that much worse. Sasha wonders if her more-frequent visions of blood and peril are part of the town itself or simply mean that she’s losing her mind. Hearing King somehow speak to her makes her suspect the latter – retired police dogs do not talk to grumpy teen girls, they just don’t!

Many mysterious things in this novel by Sherryl Clark, who firmly places readers in Manna Creek, Australia, with the town itself as one of the book’s main characters. Look for Dying to Tell Me at your local library or indie bookstore.
**kmm

Book info: Dying to Tell Me / Sherryl Clark. Kane Miller, 2011 [author’s website] [publisher site]

My Recommendation: Strange chills and odd visions – doesn’t anyone else in Manna Creek sense them? Sasha and her younger brother aren’t impressed with the little town where their dad has moved them for a “fresh start.” After the troubles that landed her in Teen Court, Sasha doesn’t have any voice in this, of course.

They nearly hit a scrawny dog as they drive up to this shabby little house that can’t even hold all their furniture. The shops in town look dusty and tired, and the townspeople aren’t very friendly to the new policeman or his family. Sasha knew that her mum wouldn’t un-divorce her dad, but she never dreamed that they’d move away from Melbourne, out to nowhere.

On their first walk around, Sasha slips off the trail and into icy Manna Creek, hitting her head on the way. Rescued by little brother Nicky and the local ambulance squad, she keeps getting visions of a man, a hunted-looking man. The visions are worse in their backyard, which they share with the police station – flashes of red and the image of a man in the old stone building.

A gun-shy retired police dog comes to live with the family. At least King likes them! Bored during the long school break, Sasha and Nicky visit the local history museum and learn about a man who hanged himself in that police cell 100 years ago. And the small art gallery includes original masterworks of famous Australian painters that Sasha recognizes from her art classes. Out here?

As Nicky and Sasha roam Manna Creek and discover more about its people and past, her visions get worse. Images of fire and death – are they shadows of the past or premonitions? Can she stop a tragedy before it happens? Why does King seem to understand what she’s thinking before she says it? And that man in her visions – who is he?

More than one mystery hides in Manna Creek and in the pages of this well-written novel by Australian author Sherryl Clark. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.