Here are two books that are perfect reads if you love dogs or animals. They are also perfect because they are definitely not boring. You will want to keep reading them until the very end. They are that good. They are so good that they both won Newbery Medals. And they both were made into films. So, let me tell you a little bit about these two outstanding books.
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo is the story of a lonely girl named India Opal (Opal, for short), who finds a big old skinny, scruffy, stray dog in the local Winn-Dixie grocery store. Opal names the dog Winn-Dixie and takes it home to give it a bath, some food and a new home. Opal’s Dad is a preacher and it doesn’t take long for him to fall in love with Winn- Dixie, too. Who can resist a dog that can smile and seem to understand everything you say? As soon as Winn-Dixie enters her life, Opal seems to have lots of adventures and make new friends. Still, Opal is lonely for her mother who ran away when Opal was only three years old. Why did her mother run away? Did she love Opal? What was she like? Opal is always on the quest to find answers to these questions. But, because of Winn-Dixie and her love for him, Opal is no longer paralyzed by these questions and is able to turn her life around in a good way.
Shiloh, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor is the story of a boy and a beagle dog. Eleven-year-old Marty Preston comes across a beagle pup in the woods near Shiloh, not far from his hometown of Friendly, West Virginia. The beagle pup wins Marty’s heart at first sight, but Marty can’t help but notice that there is something not right with the pup. The pup is frightened and cringes when Marty approaches him. Marty soon finds out why. The pup’s owner is beating him and Marty is determined to save the pup he names Shiloh from further abuse. Marty has a lot of difficult decisions to make in his effort to rescue Shiloh. He will encounter danger, adventure and emotional moments as his love for Shiloh propels him onward to do the right thing.
Fleabag by Helen Stephens is the story of a little dog that has no home. This little dog meets a boy who is sad because he has no one to play with. They bond a friendship despite the little boy’s parent telling him to stay away from the dirty flea ridden dog. Unfortunately, their bond is put to a test when the little boy has to move away. See what happens in this adorable story about a dog who always does the right thing even if no one is watching!
Rufus, a fifth grader wants a dog. Now what could be wrong with that; dogs learn tricks, they play games, they hang out with you, sleep at the foot of your bed and protect you and your family from intruders. Dogs are cool! Right! Who wouldn't want a dog? Unfortunately, Rufus' dad; and dad has come up with an endless list of objections such as, they whine, they bark, they lick people's faces, their poop has to be scooped, they eat mice, they can infest the house with blood sucking fleas and on and on and on! Rusfus' mom thinks that Rufus should have a pet, so she goes out and buys a guinea pig, a guinea pig with a spiky white mohawk! Rufus is not too excited about this pet but he doesn't want to hurt his mom's feelings so he decides to give Fido a try; yes he names his guinea pig Fido and Fido starts behaving more and more like a dog! You'll be amazed by what he can do and by the adventures Rufus and Fido have. Read Guinea Dog by Patrick Jennings, a fun read about a boy and the pet he comes to love. By the end of the book you'll have to agree when Rufus says to Fido, the guinea pig "What a dog!"
King is a dog. He’s also a detective, solving mysteries with his human, Kayla. But right now, there is a serious problem, King’s family is missing, and King, well, he’s in the P-O-U-N-D. It looks like he will need to solve this mystery by himself. First of all, like any good detective, King makes a plan. Kayla writes her plan on paper, but King will keep his in his head. And where should he start? Number 1: Escape from the P-O-U-N-D.
By using his nose and being friendly, King accomplishes the first step – he leaves the P-O-U-N-D with a boy named Connor and his mother. They are the perfect humans for King to adopt, at least temporarily since they live in King’s old neighborhood. And so, King sets off to find his family.
Events intervene, and King must adapt his plan to his new circumstances. But even as he solves the current mystery, he never forgets his main objective – find his family.
I was sorry to come to the end of this delightful book, but pleased to see we have two more books available in this series. This book would be a good choice for children transitioning from series titles like Encyclopedia Brown and Katie Kazoo to other juvenile fiction titles.
Move Over, Rover! by Karen Beaumont is an excellent book for a dog lover at any age. It’s a story about one rainy day and a tiny doghouse that gets very full with lots of different animals trying to stay out of the rain. All of the animals are more than welcome in Rover’s dog house except for one animal that is known for its awful smell and sends all the other animals running into the rain! This book is great for beginning readers because the text is on one side of the page and is also printed in a large font that is easy to read. Phrases are also repeated so hopefully a pattern is noticed and your young reader can start reading along with you!
The second and fourth Thursdays of the month are two of my favorite days, because dogs and books come together at Willow Glen Branch Library for our popular Reading to Dogs program. I always enjoy seeing Sassy and all the Furry Friends. On March 24, Willow Glen had a brand new visitor, the tall and handsome Tygon. He arrived with a bandage on one leg because he was still recovering from a bad spider bite. With any luck, his recovery will include the discovery of super powers. He already has super speed--Tygon is a Greyhound, and he used to be a racing dog. In fact, Tygon was one of the last dogs to race in Kansas, before the last dog-racing track was closed down. But that was two and a half years ago; since then, Tygon has been enjoying a more leisurely life in California with his human, Patrice.
It could be said that Tygon is a teacher's assistant at Willow Glen High School. His favorite subject in school is chemistry. He also enjoys being a Furry Friend, which lets him meet lots of new people, especially children, with whom he is unfailingly patient and tolerant. At ninety-five pounds, Tygon is on the large end of the Greyhound scale; his roommate Onyx is fully grown at only sixty pounds. I found out that Greyhounds often enjoy sleeping on their backs. This unusual canine behavior is called "roaching." For more information on this fascinating breed, take a look at your local library for books about Greyhounds. To meet Tygon in person, youngsters can come to Willow Glen on my favorite days and read him a book.