Book Review & Giveaway: Mad Dog

Mad DogIt’s time for another giveaway! Leave a comment below telling me why you’re interested in foster care and/or why you want to read Mad Dog. You can leave your comment anytime between now and next Thursday (May 23rd) morning. Due to the cost of shipping, this giveaway is only available to residents of the United States. Enjoy the review!

If the world had any idea how mad I, Wesley “Mad Dog” Williams, am at it, the sun would be would be too scared to show it’s ugly face around here.

Wesley Williams is counting down the days until his mom gets out of her drug rehab program and he can go live with her again. It’s not that he hates his foster family. In fact, he likes the fact that living at Starlight Animal Rescue allows him to rescue dogs, train them and find them new homes. But that doesn’t change the fact that he can’t wait to go back to his mother. Besides, at the moment, even his dog rescue program isn’t going so well. Is it even possible to train four misfit dogs for an assisted living facility on the schedule he’s been given?

Mad Dog is another great book from Dandi Daley Mackall, author of the Winnie the Horse Gentler series. Mad Dog is book two in the Starlight Animal Rescue series, preceded by Runaway. It’s also my favorite book in the series. After re-reading it recently for this review, I found myself cracking up over the assisted living residents. Since my family does a lot of elder care, I could relate to the situation…though I’ve yet to meet someone quite like the Buddy in this book. 😉 Definitely a great book to get your hands on.

Author: Dandi Daley Mackall
Audience: Tweens and up
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 210

Don’t forget to leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of Mad Dog.

New Feature

LighthouseRecently a mom commented on this blog saying, “My daughter is a voracious reader…she has been reading and re-reading Little Women for the past 3 years. She is nine now and it is just hard to keep up with her and know what to offer.” That comment gave me the idea for a new feature on this blog.

When I was between 8 and 12 years old, I gobbled animal stories. My mom had a hard time keeping up with me. I know I’m not the only animal crazy girl out there, so I put together a list animal series I do and don’t recommend, and the reasons I do or don’t recommend them. Hopefully, in the future, I’ll put together more lists for parents (and everyone else) to use.

For now, here’s the link to the new Parent Guide.

Author Interview: Alison Hart

Book Review: Hero

A thin film of white powder trickled out the holes Mike’s teeth had made. He shook a little into his palm and looked at it. It was as fine as talcum powder. Powdered sugar. Why would anyone send a package of powdered sugar through the mail? He wet a finger, touched it to the powder and tasted it. Then he just stood there, his face twisted out of shape, and shock rolled through him in waves. What he had just tasted was heroin.

When Chris George and his dope sniffing dog Mike botch a case, they get kicked out the the Cost Guard. Lieutenant Ballard is convinced Chris is involved with the mob and messed up on purpose. When Chris takes a new job as night watchman at a warehouse, he isn’t expecting trouble. Not until Mike finds a package of heroin. Chris doesn’t think he’ll be believed if he brings the heroin to the Cost Guard. What will he do when his life is threatened?

This book has been a favorite of mine for a long time. It’s an intense, high-stakes story, but remains appropriate and clean for younger readers. In my opinion, this is the best of Walt Morey’s books.

Author: Walt Morey
Alternate Title: The Lemon Meringue Dog
Audience: Tween–Young Adult
Genre: Adventure
Pages: 165
Publisher: Puffin Books

Have you read any Walt Morey books? Which one is your favorite?

Author Interview: Dandi Daley Mackall

Author Interview: Bobbie Pyron


Last Friday I posted a book review for A Dog’s Way Home. This book is the story of a Sheltie’s journey back to his beloved girl. Today, author Bobbie Pyron is here to answer a few questions.

What gave you the inspiration for A Dog’s Way Home?
I like to say A Dog’s Way Home is my personal love letter to my dogs and to all the classic dog books I read growing up, like Lassie Come-Home and The Incredible Journey. It’s a celebration of the two things I have always loved most in the world since I was a child: books and dogs. It was inspired specifically by two of my dogs, my Shetland Sheepdog, Teddy, and my coyote mix, Boo. I started thinking about the story one day when I was hiking with the two of them way up in the mountains. I watched how differently they interacted with their environment and with me-—Boo always off-trail where I can’t see her, hunting, and Teddy never farther than six feet from me. I asked myself, “What if they had to survive on their own in the wilderness?” I knew Boo would be okay, at least physically. But Teddy was another story. So A Dog’s Way Home is his story!

Tell us a little bit about Shelties. What are some of their characteristics? What makes them unique?
Shelties were originally bred as herding dogs on the wild and cold Shetland Islands off the northern end of Scotland. They herded sheep mostly, and they also served as sentry dogs, alerting the crofters when a stranger came on their land. They’re a tough little breed. They are also extremely loyal and very smart. They bond strongly to their people but can be aloof with strangers. They also, generally speaking, are great family dogs. They’re not for everybody, though: they shed a lot and they bark a lot!

I can certainly relate to the shedding and barking! My Sheltie, Lady, seems to have missed the part about being aloof with strangers, though. 🙂

How long did “A Dog’s Way Home” take you to write?
It took about nine months to write the first draft. I tend to edit as I go along. Plus, I still work a day job (I’m a librarian in my “other life”). That first draft was followed by quite a number of revisions and rejections. From first draft to publication in March of 2011, it took about three years. Being an author is not for the faint of heart, nor for the impatient.

Tell us about your next book, “The Dogs of Winter”.
The Dogs of Winter is based on the true story of Ivan Mishukov, a very young homeless child in Russia. The book takes place in Moscow in the mid-1990s, after the fall of the Soviet Union. Although we tend to think of the Soviet Union’s fall as a good thing, it was devastating to the people of Russia. As a result, there were tens of thousands of homeless children and teens living and doing their best to survive on the streets of Moscow and St. Petersburg. Unlike most of the homeless kids, Ivan did not join one of the many gangs of children living in the underground railway stations. Instead, he was adopted by a pack of feral street dogs and lived with them for two years. My book is a fictionalized account of those two years. My editor, Arthur A. Levine, says it’s a mash-up of Oliver Twist and Julie of the Wolves. But it’s also an exploration of what makes us human and what defines “family.” It’ll be published by Scholastic October 1st.

Thank you for your time, Bobbie!

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Book Review: A Dog’s Way Home

“Tam!” I said, cutting her off. Panic turned my insides to ice. “Where’s Tam?”

Abbie and her Shetland Sheepdog, Tam, are best friends. They are on their way home from an agility event when Tam is thrown from the back of their truck. By the time Abby returns to look for him, Tam is gone. As months go by, Abby’s family moves and Tam continues his search for “his girl”. Will they every be reunited?

This is a wonderful story told in the tradition of Lassie, Come Home. A librarian friend of mine saved it for me, thinking I might enjoy it. She was right! If you like dogs this book is definitely for you.

Author: Bobbie Pyron
Audience: 9 and up
Genre: Contemporary Animal Fiction
Pages: 321
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Join me on Wednesday for an interview with author Bobbie Pyron.

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