Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Favorite Dog Picture Books

In honor of the birthday girl, here are some of my favorite picture books featuring dogs. (It is slightly ridiculous how much time I spent trying to take this picture - she got a treat to keep her sitting still and from trying to take off the hat, but then I could not get her to look at the camera. Oh well, she's still cute!)

The Great Gracie Chase: Stop That Dog! by Cynthia Rylant (who does great dog books), illus. by Mark Teague - Gracie Rose loves her nice quiet house, which is not so quiet when the painters come. Even though she knows it is against the rules, Gracie leaves the yard on her own, leading lots of people on a chase.

Dog's Colorful Day by Emma Dodd - Dog is white with one black spot. After a messy day, he finds himself with ten colorful spots. I love using this one in toddler storytime - with colors and counting, it provides for lots of interaction. Also look for Dog's Noisy Day.

Digby Takes Charge by Caroline Jayne Church - Digby, a sheepdog, tries all kinds of things to get the sheep in their pen. Nothing works, until he learns the magic word. A cute, understated story about saying "please."

Move Over, Rover by Karen Beaumont, illus. by Jane Dyer - When it starts to rain, animals begin to pile into Rover's dog house. Although they keep crowding in, all is well until the arrival of a smelly guest. An especially fun read aloud because of the rhythm and rhyme.

Bark, George by Jules Feiffer - Poor George. He can make a lot of animal sounds, but he can't bark. Poor George's mom. She is so frustrated! A trip to the vet gets everything sorted out...for a short while at least. Both text and illustrations are perfect; the end result is hilarious for kids and adults.

Please Take Me For A Walk by Susan Gal - One of my absolute favorites! A must read for dog owners of any age, it gives all the reasons you should take your dog for a walk.

Buster by Denise Fleming - Buster has a great life...until the day a kitten comes to live at his house. Buster is terrified of this kitten, and escapes one day to spend a fun, kitten-free afternoon. But when he gets lost, it's the kitten who comes to his rescue. Also look for Buster Goes to Cowboy Camp.

Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats - A classic tale of a boy who wants to learn how to whistle so he can call his dog. Like Peter, I cannot whistle to call for my dog; unlike Peter, I have given up trying to learn.

Daisy 1, 2, 3 by Peter Catalanotto - Mrs. Tuttle has 20 dogs in her obedience class and they are all named Daisy. Luckily, each dog has a unique characteristic. This is a clever counting book with a cute twist at the end.

Skunkdog by Emily Jenkins, illus. by Pierre Pratt - Dumpling has no sense of smell, and thus has a hard time making friends with other dogs. (She's not interested in smelling flowers or garbage or anything else.) When she and her family move to the country, she finally makes friends...with a skunk, much to the dismay of her people.

Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion, illus. by Margaret Bloy - An oldie but goodie: Harry does not want a bath, buries the brush and runs off. When he comes home completely dirty, he has to take a bath to get his family to recognize him. Also look for No Roses for Harry, and my favorite, Harry by the Sea.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Reel Life Starring Us by Lisa Greenwald

Reel Life Starring Us by Lisa Greenwald
Abrams, 2011

As a fan of Greenwald's previous novels (My Life in Pink & Green and Sweet Treats & Secret Crushes), I was excited to read her latest. This one, Reel Life Starring Us, is just as delightful.

Dina has just moved to a new city and is starting eighth grade at a new school, a month late. She's artistic, enjoys filming videos, and is having to make the adjustment from a small school that encouraged differences (and where she was popular) to a bigger school filled with cliques. Chelsea is also starting eighth grade a month late, having just recovered from mono. Unlike Dina, she's starting school as one of the most popular girls, with tight group of friends. She's also starting school with a big secret. As the story unfolds, we get hints about this secret, such as her dad having traded his pin-stripe suits for work out clothes and her not having the latest pair of designer jeans.

Chapters alternate between the girls; one of the things Greenwald handles so well is changing the point of view. While Dina's chapters start with a film tip and Chelsea's start with a tip from a popular teen star, each girl also a distinct voice and you always know which one is talking.

Dina is aware of Chelsea from the moment the popular clique chants for during a badminton game as Dina watches from the sidelines. Their stories really begin to merge when the two are assigned to work on a video project together. Chelsea's reluctant about the project (she'd much rather be working with her friends than the unpopular new girl) and Dina's excited (she's got lots of great ideas and thinks this is her ticket to becoming Chelsea's friend and thus popular). Each girl thinks she can figure the other out in ten seconds, but slowly discover that's not the case.

Friendships, popularity, boys, school, family - it's all here. We (adults) hear so many real stories about kids growing up too fast, and a lot of them are...but a lot of them aren't. Greenwald excels (in all of her books) at capturing that true middle school experience for these kids - where you go over to a boy's house to study and are a little nervous about being alone in his room with him, and where parents ask about your day (even if you don't want to tell them).

Reviewed from digital copy provided by publisher on NetGalley