Tag Archive | dogs

Y is for YOUR HEART, MY SKY, love despite starvation in Cuba, by Margarita Engle (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of Your Heart, My Sky: Love in a Time of Hunger, by Margarita Engle. Published by Atheneum / Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Food is dwindling,
government rule tightens,
can people survive on hope alone?

Words feed your soul, but not the gnawing hunger across the island during el periodico especial en tiempos de paz in 1991, as the Soviet Union collapses and its food shipments to Cuba cease, starting a decade of starvation.

Out in the countryside, Liana is adopted by a brown dog who sings to the sky and helps the 14 year old find things to cook for her family. No, she won’t go to the government’s “summer camp” working in the sugarcane fields and leave her siblings to starve.

Neither will 15-year-old Amado, even though he’ll be an outcast in the village. If they knew his plan to evade military conscription, he’d be in prison with his brother who did the same. Constant hunger makes rebellious thoughts of freedom difficult, but he will persevere.

As the two young people try to fight their growing attraction, the singing dog called Paz does his best to nudge them together, knowing that they’ll be stronger together.

Can they grow any food without the government finding out?
Can hope alone sustain them as the police keep watch on Amado?
Should they also make a raft and try to escape to Miami?

Celebrate Poetry Month with this verse novel in three voices, by the author of Rima’s Rebellion (I recommended here).

To this day, Cuba imports most of its food – where do your representative and Senator stand on ending the decades-long US trade embargo?

Book info: Your Heart, My Sky: Love in a Time of Hunger / Margarita Engle. Atheneum / Simon & Schuster, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

S is princess Sophie POISONED by her stepmother, saved by 7 small men, by Jennifer Donnelly (YA book review)

book cover of Poisoned, by Jennifer Donnelly. Published by Scholastic | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Tomorrow is her 17th birthday –
old enough to inherit her father’s kingdom,
but her evil stepmother has other ideas…

Outwardly, Sophie is haughty and brave, as any princess of Konigsburg must be, but she has a merciful heart like the late much-beloved king and shows mercy to scared hunting dog Zara.

The queen’s mirror whispers secrets and plots – Sophie must have a strong husband to help her rule, but if the princess were attacked by Darkwood beasts, then no need to risk alliance with another country…

The Huntsman brings back only Sophie’s heart from their ride through the Darkwood, but her body is saved by seven short men who heal her with kindness and a clockwork heart.

Rumors of the queen’s war declarations reach even into the woods, and Sophie knows she must get to the prince who courted her so they can stop her land from becoming a bloody battlefield.

As they travel the backroads, Sophie, Zara, and clever young man Will hear how her people have been taxed to death for the Queen’s luxuries and spied on by her Crows.

Can Sophie save the kingdom before her heart winds down?
Will the Queen’s guard find them first?
Who is speaking through the mirror?

This retelling of classic fairy tale Snow White asks readers to reclaim the power of their inner voice.

What future are you running toward?

Book info: Poisoned / Jennifer Donnelly. Scholastic Press, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

So very funny! DOGGOS DOING THINGS, by John Trulli (book review)

book cover of Doggos Doing Things: the Hilarious World of Puppos, Borkers, and Other Good Bois. Published by Running Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

You’ve seen these doggos online.
A floofer may live with you!
Time to meet all the good bois and girls!

The talented hoomans at @doggosdoingthings on Instagram have collected an entire pack of iconic captioned photos of pupperinos, longbois, and more in this July 2020 celebration of all manner of doggos.

A helpful preface defines Doggo Brands from woofers to yappers and also identifies Other Types of Doggos they may encounter like a nut monkey (must be chased), quack daddy, and ouch mouse. You’ll also learn the difference between doin a blep and doin a mlem, plus Doggos’ Favorite Words such as treatos, snackos, and boop!

Posed in costume or just out and about, these fine doggos are heckin cute, and the kind frens who snap their pix are credited on every fun and funny photo.

Share this book with your favorite puppo-lovers by ordering from your local independent bookstore, and request it at your library.

Be inspired to take better pet photos, then showcase the smile and style of good bois and girls you meet with your own wise and witty captions.

What happy message is your nearby longboy or smol doggo sending today?

Book info: Doggos Doing Things: The Hilarious World of Puppos, Borkers, and Other Good Boyes / by John Trulli & creators of @doggosdoingthings. Doing Things Media / Running Press, 2020. [creator Instagram] [publisher site] Review copy, image from book page 13, and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Image of goat & dog, nose to nose through wooden fence (photo by @archiespotted)- page 13 of Doggos Doing Things, published by Running Press
page 13, Doggos Doing Things (c)Running Press

Heading home from school? LOOK BOTH WAYS, by Jason Reynolds (book review)

book cover of Look Both Ways, by Jason Reynolds. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Who’s smart or not,
friendly, sneaky, silly –
at school, you know who’s who…

Last class of the day, then off they go in all directions – friends and bullies, foster kids and only kids, thinking about homework, thinking of anything but school.

In your neighborhood, everybody knows whose mama is fighting cancer again and where the mean dog lives.

Things that folks don’t know: why Cynthia tells jokes on Cinder’s Stage every day at 3:33, how loud the anxiety roars in Ty’s head, what Pia is thinking as she skateboards everywhere.

This “tale told in ten blocks” by Black kids interweaves friendship, family histories, new attraction, and old memories.

Work on your own story with help from the author; Jason Reynolds has started the “Write, Right, Rite” project as National Ambassador for Children’s Literature.

What do you think about on the way home from school?

Book info: Look Both Ways: a Tale Told in Ten Blocks / Jason Reynolds; illustrations by Alexander Nabaum. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2019. [author site] [artist site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

I for I CAN MAKE THIS PROMISE, by Christine Day (middle grade book review)

book cover of I Can Make This Promise, by Christine Day. Published by Harper Collins | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Waiting for seventh grade to begin,
sketching flowers and a found dog,
waiting for Mom to talk about those old photos.

Edie’s mom was adopted by a white family in Seattle so her Native American ancestry is a mystery. This growing distance between the 12 year old and best friend Amelia is mysterious, too… will she help Edie and Serenity make their movie for the student festival or not?

Wow, Edie looks just like the Edith whose journals she found in their attic, who headed down to Hollywood in 1973 to be in the movies… why haven’t her parents ever mentioned her? Who was Theo and why did he go to Wounded Knee?

New braces, old worries… how can Amelia insist that Edie star in their film instead of being the animator like she promised? What if Mom and Dad won’t talk about Edith at all?

One summer week… so much can happen in one week! Will Edie’s life ever be the same?

The author is Upper Skagit of the Coast Salish people and lives in the Pacific Northwest, like Edie and her family.

What stories does your family tell when you remember those who came before you?

Book info: I Can Make This Promise / Christine Day. Harper Collins, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

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?

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?

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?

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.

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.

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.