DOG DAYS

Larry Haskins spent a nearly wonderful summer playing baseball and caring for his three stray dogs. He’s always looking for good homes to place them with, since his family isn’t well-off, and he can keep only as many as he can afford to feed. Paul, his excitable six-year-old brother, sees a possibly black-lab puppy growling beneath a suspicious stain on the wall of an alley. Paul’s sure someone was murdered; Larry just wants to help the puppy. He is, however, running out of funds to buy dog food. Every plan he makes to earn money fails until the mystery of the stain and the puppy provides the answers he needs. Lubar has given parents and teachers of reluctant male readers something to cheer about—especially if they are concerned about the siren call of action-packed, violent series fiction. This gentle story with a laudable hero will draw young boys in as they recognize themselves in Larry, and it will keep them turning pages as his problems mount. The story threads knit together for a happy ending that will leave them wishing it had lasted longer. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: May 1, 2004

ISBN: 1-58196-013-1

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Darby Creek

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2004

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KENNY & THE DRAGON

Reports of children requesting rewrites of The Reluctant Dragon are rare at best, but this new version may be pleasing to young or adult readers less attuned to the pleasures of literary period pieces. Along with modernizing the language—“Hmf! This Beowulf fellow had a severe anger management problem”—DiTerlizzi dials down the original’s violence. The red-blooded Boy is transformed into a pacifistic bunny named Kenny, St. George is just George the badger, a retired knight who owns a bookstore, and there is no actual spearing (or, for that matter, references to the annoyed knight’s “Oriental language”) in the climactic show-fight with the friendly, crème-brulée-loving dragon Grahame. In look and spirit, the author’s finely detailed drawings of animals in human dress are more in the style of Lynn Munsinger than, for instance, Ernest Shepard or Michael Hague. They do, however, nicely reflect the bright, informal tone of the text. A readable, if denatured, rendition of a faded classic. (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4169-3977-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2008

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HOME OF THE BRAVE

From the author of the Animorphs series comes this earnest novel in verse about an orphaned Sudanese war refugee with a passion for cows, who has resettled in Minnesota with relatives. Arriving in winter, Kek spots a cow that reminds him of his father’s herd, a familiar sight in an alien world. Later he returns with Hannah, a friendly foster child, and talks the cow’s owner into hiring him to look after it. When the owner plans to sell the cow, Kek becomes despondent. Full of wide-eyed amazement and unalloyed enthusiasm for all things American, Kek is a generic—bordering on insulting—stereotype. His tribe, culture and language are never identified; personal details, such as appearance and age, are vague or omitted. Lacking the quirks and foibles that bring characters to life, Kek seems more a composite of traits designed to instruct readers than an engaging individual in his own right. Despite its lackluster execution, this story’s simple premise and basic vocabulary make it suitable for younger readers interested in the plight of war refugees. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-312-36765-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2007

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