A charming novel about a troubled young dog owner that will appeal to readers of all ages.

READ REVIEW

ALMOST PERFECT

A YA novel about two unlikely friends, their dogs, and the competitions that bring them and their community together.

As Manning’s (Hill Country Teacher, 1990) entertaining novel opens, Benny Neusner, a 14-year-old boy in Redding, Conn., is dealing with emotional issues stemming from his parents’ divorce. He’s enrolled at New Hope, a school for children with behavioral challenges, and works with his therapist, Dr. Kate, to learn to better handle his emotions. He also has a crush on Steffie, one of his classmates. During an evening walk alone one night, he discovers Bess Rutledge, a former champion breeder and dog-show contestant, in her barn delivering new puppies. This litter, Bess says, will be her last; she’s decided to close her legendary Umpawaug Kennels and give up on her dream of winning best in show at the famous Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Benny likes Bess’ dog McCreery, the puppies’ sire, and although Bess won’t give up her beloved pet, she does offer to give the boy the puppy of his choice from her final litter. He picks Breaker, a beautiful, brown male puppy that resembles McCreery. Bess agrees to let Benny keep Breaker at her house, since he’s not allowed to have a dog at his own. Soon Benny grows close to Bess’ adult son, David, and together, they plot to get Bess back in the ring. They eventually convince her to let Benny show Breaker at dog shows. Breaker does remarkably well, winning his first competition, and showing the dog becomes a form of therapy for Benny. Slowly but surely, both his confidence and Bess’ return, and the two decide together that they should take their dreams more seriously. Manning’s book is heartwarming and informative, and it offers an intriguing look at children who suffer from different behavioral issues. Benny’s crush, Steffie, is said to have Asperger’s syndrome, and Benny offers an elucidating description of his own emotional challenges: “How’d you like to have so many feelings inside they make your head swim?” The book also addresses the healing and therapeutic nature of dogs, and would likely be a great read for any dog lover.

A charming novel about a troubled young dog owner that will appeal to readers of all ages.

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2014

ISBN: 978-0578136394

Page Count: 330

Publisher: Beltor

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2014

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A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Mary's Song

From the Dream Horse Adventure Series series , Vol. 1

A novel tells the story of two spirited girls who set out to save a lame foal in 1952.

Mary, age 12, lacks muscle control of her legs and must use a wheelchair. Her life is constantly interrupted by trips with her widower father to assorted doctors, all of whom have failed to help her. Mary tolerates the treatments, hoping to one day walk unassisted, but her true passion involves horses. Possessing a library filled with horse books, she loves watching and drawing the animals at a neighboring farm. She longs to own one herself. But her father, overprotective due to her disability and his own lingering grief over Mary’s dead mother, makes her keep her distance. Mary befriends Laura, the emotionally neglected daughter of the wealthy neighboring farm owners, and the two share secret buggy rides. Both girls are attracted to Illusion, a beautiful red bay filly on the farm. Mary learns that Illusion is to be put down by a veterinarian because of a lame leg. Horrified, she decides to talk to the barn manager about the horse (“Isn’t it okay for her to live even if she’s not perfect? I think she deserves a chance”). Soon, Mary and Laura attempt to raise money to save Illusion. At the same time, Mary begins to gain control of her legs thanks to water therapy and secret therapeutic riding with Laura. There is indeed a great deal of poignancy in a story of a girl with a disability fighting to defend the intrinsic value of a lame animal. But this book, the first installment of the Dream Horse Adventure Series, would be twice as touching if Mary interacted with Illusion more. In the tale’s opening, she watches the foal from afar, but she actually spends very little time with the filly she tries so hard to protect. This turns out to be a strange development given the degree to which the narrative relies on her devotion. Count (Selah’s Sweet Dream, 2015) draws Mary and Laura in broad but believable strokes, defined mainly by their unrelenting pluckiness in the face of adversity. While the work tackles disability, death, and grief, Mary’s and Laura’s environments are so idyllic and their optimism and perseverance so remarkable that the story retains an aura of uncomplicated gentleness throughout.

A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Hastings Creations Group

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2016

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A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.

SHOW TRIALS

HOW PROPERTY GETS MORE LEGAL PROTECTION THAN PEOPLE IN OUR FAILED IMMIGRATION SYSTEM

A highly organized, informative discussion of the immigration system in the United States.

In this politically charged environment, Afrasiabi manages to broach the volatile issue of immigration in a well-rounded, surprisingly effective framework that combines case studies, historical research, statistical analysis and personal anecdotes to detail the current issues and propose solutions. Invocations of Kafka, “The Twilight Zone” and “Alice in Wonderland” prove warranted as illustrations of the often surreal circumstances that confront immigrants facing deportation. Immigrants usually lack access to quality legal representation, while their situation can be made doubly difficult due to language barriers and significant cultural differences. Afrasiabi incorporates his work with colleagues and students at the Chapman University School of Law to deftly weave together the facts of several compelling cases and their underlying legal issues, with a genuine sense of suspense as readers wonder if justice will be truly be served. Occasionally, though, the narrative becomes overwrought—two federal laws passed in 1996 are “dark storm clouds depositing their sleet”—although, considering the life-changing effects of court decisions, it’s difficult to overstate the ramifications: extralegal rendition of individuals with pending cases and the de facto deportation of native-born children whose parents are deported. Afrasiabi also addresses the legacy of various anti-alien laws in California, as well as marriage equality for same-sex couples when one partner is a noncitizen. As the subtitle asserts, Afrasiabi employs his additional experience in the field of property law to contrast the stark differences between immigration judges and constitutional judges, like their qualifications, vetting processes and even the oaths they take. His arguments culminate in seven concrete reforms proposed in the conclusion. In order to make the immigration system more just and effective, Afrasiabi claims the solutions are closer than we may think; we can implement procedures and safeguards already in place within the constitutional courts.

A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 249

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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