Hickory and Kemp continue their outstanding work as guide companions, smoothly guiding readers through the life and times of...


An account of two Seeing Eye dogs that guide their visually impaired partner through the chaotic streets of New York.

Burlingame (A Symphonic Crazy-Quilt of Designs for Stages and Screens, 1997) shares how two Seeing Eye dogs returned mobility to his life when he became legally blind. After a frightening experience navigating busy city streets armed with nothing but a white cane, the author contacted The Seeing Eye in Morristown, N.J. There, he met Hickory, his first canine companion. Hickory and Burlingame share numerous everyday adventures—making friends, dining out and attending the opera—which continue until Hickory’s retirement. Afterward, Kemp takes over. While many of the events are fairly ordinary, the memoir is anything but dull. Part of the intrigue comes from understanding how day-to-day life unfolds for the visually impaired and their helper dogs. Readers also get to learn about the process dogs go through to qualify as Seeing Eye companions. What makes these experiences even more fascinating is that they are told from the perspective of the two dogs. Burlingame plays “scribe” to Kemp and Hickory, who relay their experiences as only dogs can. While the book doesn’t hide the difficulties that result from loss of sight, it maintains an overall humorous, hopeful tone, thanks to the boundless cheerfulness of its canine narrators. They are distinctly canine in their thoughts and actions, often expressing a lack of understanding for certain human interests, like opera, and woefully lamenting the standard concerns that come with being a dog, like suffering through restricted diets that prohibit the consumption of miscellaneous “treats” littering the sidewalk. Both dogs also have their own distinct voices, lending to their believability as narrators. Hickory, having been socialized with a family whose father taught literature, seems a little more cultured, occasionally displaying knowledge of classic literary characters. Kemp, on the other hand, is more of a common dog with a youthful, inexperienced tone, which he demonstrates through a lack of understanding about the meaning of certain terms, like “puppy proof.”

Hickory and Kemp continue their outstanding work as guide companions, smoothly guiding readers through the life and times of Seeing Eye dogs and their partners.

Pub Date: July 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-1477446027

Page Count: 234

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.



In the ninth book in the Bluford young-adult series, a young Latino man walks away from violence—but at great personal cost.

In a large Southern California city, 16-year-old Martin Luna hangs out on the fringes of gang life. He’s disaffected, fatherless and increasingly drawn into the orbit of the older, rougher Frankie. When a stray bullet kills Martin’s adored 8-year-old brother, Huero, Martin seems to be heading into a life of crime. But Martin’s mother, determined not to lose another son, moves him to another neighborhood—the fictional town of Bluford, where he attends the racially diverse Bluford High. At his new school, the still-grieving Martin quickly makes enemies and gets into trouble. But he also makes friends with a kind English teacher and catches the eye of Vicky, a smart, pretty and outgoing Bluford student. Martin’s first-person narration supplies much of the book’s power. His dialogue is plain, but realistic and believable, and the authors wisely avoid the temptation to lard his speech with dated and potentially embarrassing slang. The author draws a vivid and affecting picture of Martin’s pain and confusion, bringing a tight-lipped teenager to life. In fact, Martin’s character is so well drawn that when he realizes the truth about his friend Frankie, readers won’t feel as if they are watching an after-school special, but as though they are observing the natural progression of Martin’s personal growth. This short novel appears to be aimed at urban teens who don’t often see their neighborhoods portrayed in young-adult fiction, but its sophisticated characters and affecting story will likely have much wider appeal.

A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004

ISBN: 978-1591940173

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Townsend Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2013

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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


Page Count: -

Publisher: Hastings Creations Group

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2016

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