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by Judy Cox & illustrated by Steve Bjorkman

Age Range: 7 - 9

Pub Date: May 15th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-8234-2073-5
Publisher: Holiday House

Impetuous third-grader Fran wins a prime spot in the class play and learns to control herself, thanks to puppy school. Fran really wants to be the princess in the play but her behavior is anything but royal: She barrels through groups of little kids (“squirts”) to get to the tetherball pole first, collects roadkill to sneak into a schoolmate’s backpack and grabs the wrist of her kindergarten reading buddy. At home, her big puppy Hercules is having the same self-control problems, and, with Fran’s mother expecting a baby, it’s clear that Hercules needs to shape up. Or else. It’s hard to say who learns more at puppy kindergarten, Hercules or Fran, but they both progress, and Fran gets to show what a sweet princess she really can be. Though the resolution is too tidy, the familiar situation will resonate with the early elementary set. One cavil: The large typeface, coupled with Björkman’s expressive, somewhat exaggerated, black-and-white drawings, would be much more accessible to new readers if the design allowed for more white space between lines and at the margins. (notes on puppy-training) (Fiction. 7-9)