Thursday, September 16, 2021

Brainstorm 248: Dog Books Part 2

It’s the dogs’ last week to take over the Brainstorm. This week, as promised, we’ve got canine fiction picture books, and some of my favorite doggy graphic novels, comics, and manga. Click on the titles to see my full review for each book including any content notes/trigger warnings.

Ball by Mary Sullivan

A dog loves playing ball with his little girl. He is despondent when she has to go to school and dreams of more ball adventures. Will he ever have ball fun again?

The entire text of this book is just the word "ball" repeated with different fonts and punctuation. The rest of the story must be interpreted from the pictures.

Target Readers:

Graphic Novel Fans, Humor Fans, Pre-Readers, Readers Practicing Reading with Punctuation, Picture Book Readers

A Camping Spree with Mr Magee (Mr Magee) by Chris Van Dusen

Mr. Magee and his dog Dee decide to go camping for some peace, quiet, and rest. But when a bear with poor sight stumbles into their camp in search of delicious marshmallows things get a bit exciting.

Fun Fact: You can find Mr. Magee and Dee in the background of all Chris Van Dunsen’s picture books, not just the Mr. Magee series.

Target Readers:

Camping Story Fans, Outdoors Activity Fans, Humor Fans, Picture Book Readers

Copper by Kazu Kibuishi

Copper is an adventurous human and Fred is a cautious canine. Together they have all sorts of adventures, both mundane and out of this world. This is a collection of a bunch of short comic adventures, the longest only being a few pages long. The end of the book also has a step-by-step look at the way Kibuishi creates comics from rough sketched idea to digital files.

Target Readers:

Graphic Novel Fans, Comics Readers, Adventure Fans, Science Fiction Fans, Middle Grade Readers on up

Digging for Dinos (Haggis and Tank Unleashed, #2) by Jessica Young, ill. by James Burks

Haggis and Tank find a bone in the yard and decide to go on one epic dinosaur hunt.

Target Readers:

Adventure Fans, Pun Lovers, Graphic Novel Fans, Humor Fans, Imaginative Readers, Lower Grade Readers

A Dog Named Doug by Karma Wilson, ill. by Matt Myers

Doug is a dog who likes to dig. He might like it a bit too much. He might go a little crazy with his digging. And his digging might take him to weird and wonderful places. He out digs a prairie dog, finds treasure, gets in trouble with secret service at the White House, visits several different countries, and eventually gets scolded for digging too many holes in his own back yard. But his owners still love him.

Target Readers:

Wildly Imaginative Story Fans, Zany Adventure Fans, Humor Fans, Rhyming Story Fans, Picture Book Readers

A Dog Named Haku: a Holiday Story from Nepal by Margarita Engle with Amish Kanajit and Nicole Kanajit, ill. by Ruth Jeyaveeran

Alu and Bhalu are looking around the city of Kathmandu for a dog to feed as part of the traditions of the Festival of Lights.

Many have heard of Indian Diwali, but this is the Nepalese version of that holiday with some unique aspects. There's a note in the front of the book with a little more information about the holiday and where it is celebrated. The story is quite modern, referencing the way dogs helped save people after the earthquake that struck Kathmandu.

Target Readers:

Nepal Setting Fans, Holiday Story Fans, Picture Book Readers 

Dogs Are People, Too by Dave Coverly

A collection of Speed Bump comics that feature dogs.

Target Readers:

Comics Readers, Humor Fans, Middle Grade Readers on up

Extraordinary Jane by Hannah E. Harrison

Jane is a glaringly normal dog in a family of extraordinary circus dogs. She can’t do the things her parents or her siblings do, so she tries to find her special talent. The results vary from humorous to disastrous. Eventually, Jane and the circus master realize that Jane is best just being herself.

Target Readers:

Heartwarming Story Fans, Self-Acceptance Story Fans, Circus Setting Fans, Picture Book Readers

Gaston (Gaston and Friends) by Kelly DiPucchio, ill. by Christian Robinson

Gaston always seems a bit different from his poodle siblings, but he still loves his family and takes his mother's training to heart. So when the Poodle family meets the Bull Dog family at the park and realizes there was a terrible mistake, they decide to try and fix things. But Gaston just doesn't feel at home with the Bull Dogs, and Antoinette cannot fill Gaston's spot in the Poodle family, so the families switch back. But they all still frequently meet together at the park for fun and friendship.

Target Readers:

Ugly Duckling Adaptation Fans, Family Story Fans, Picture Book Readers

Good, Rosie by Kate DiCamillo, ill. by Harry Bliss

Rosie is a lonely dog, even though she has a loving owner. When her owner takes her to the dog park she doesn't like it at first. But then she learns how to make friends.

Target Readers:

Graphic Novel Fans, Friendship Story Fans, Shy Readers, Picture Book Readers

The Great Puppy Invasion by Alastair Heim, ill. by Kim Smith

The people of Strictville have an unprecedented emergency on their hands when puppies start showing up in town.

Target Readers:

Satire/Irony/Hyperbole Fans/Studiers, Humor Fans, Invasion Story Fans, Picture Book Readers

Happy Paws (Layla and the Bots, #1) by Vicky Fang, ill. by Christine Nishiyama

Layla and her three bots find out that Happy Days amusement park is going to close. They are very sad and decide to research where people in the community are going instead, and then come up with ideas to save the park.

Target Readers:

Problem Solving Story Fans, Robot Fans, Amusement Park Fans, STEM Story Fans, Graphic Novel Fans, Lower Grade Readers

I Love You More Than My Phone: a “Slothilda & Peanut” Comic Collection by Dante Fabiero

A collection of comics about Slothilda, her pet corgi Peanut, and the joys and eye-roll moments of pet ownership.

Target Readers:

Comic Readers, Humor Fans, Pet Owners, Readers of All Ages

Lone Wolf by Sarah Kurpiel

Maple is a husky and beloved family pet, but after hearing so many people ask her owners if she is a wolf. Maple decides she should take the opportunity an open gate provides to see if she really is a wolf.

Target Readers:

Subtle Humor Fans, Readers Wanting to Talk about Labels, Heartwarming Story Fans, Picture Book Readers

Madeline Finn and the Library Dog (Madelien Finn, #1) by Lisa Papp

Madeline Finn struggles to read. She really wants a star at school, but stars are for good readers. And Madeline always struggles. Reading is not fun. But then one week the librarian introduces Madeline to Bonnie, a dog ready to listen to her read. Bonnie doesn't judge when Madeline stumbles and doesn't laugh when she makes a mistake. With Bonnie's help, can Madeline gain enough confidence to get that elusive star?

Target Readers:

Struggling Readers, Heartwarming Story Fans, Picture Book Readers

Mega-Dogs of New Kansas by Dan Jolley, ill. by Jacques Khouri

Sienna is the daughter of a scientist and lives with her mom on the planet New Kansas. Sienna’s mom and other scientists are trying to set up a stable settlement. Her mom breeds mega-dogs to help defend a local bird species’ eggs for export from huge native lizard-like creatures called spinners. Sienna loves the dogs, especially Gus. Other kids on the base think Sienna is stuck up because she doesn’t talk to them, but they don’t know that her tongue gets tied at just the thought of talking to them. Thinking they can teach a stuck up girl a lesson, two boys plot a prank for the Vice President’s arrival that goes very wrong. Desperate to save her best friend, Sienna resorts to drastic measures to save Gus. Meanwhile, the settlement is firing up the new power plant the Vice President is there to inspect.

Target Readers:

Science Fiction Fans, Graphic Novel Fans, Survival Story Fans, Personal Growth Story Fans, Middle Grade Readers

Mellybean and the Giant Monster (Mellybean, #1) by Mike White

Mellybean has lots of energy and is a bit much for the cats in her family sometimes. When the humans are out, they decide to get Melly outside by telling her to hide a shoe REALLY well. Melly decides to bury it, but finds a hole that she falls into and takes her to a fantasy world. There, Mellybean meets a monster who is being harassed by the king's soldiers and many others. Melly decides to help her new friend, and possibly solve the rest of the problems in this place while she's at it.

Target Readers:

Humor Fans, Adventure Fans, Fantasy Fans, Graphic Novel Fans, Fans of Relentlessly Friendly Characters, Readers Needing a Good Dose of Cuteness, Middle Grade Readers (though approachable to Lower Grade Readers)

The Mutts Winter Diaries by Patrick McDonnell

A collection of Mutts comics on the topic of winter.

Target Readers:

Comics Readers, Animal Lovers, Winter Antics Fans, Readers of All Ages

The Perfect Dog by Kevin O’Malley

A little girl tries to decide which kind of dog would be perfect as her new pet.

The book repeatedly uses superlative adjectives with illustrations demonstrating these comparisons well.

Target Readers:

Kids Who Want a Pet, Families about to Adopt a Dog, Readers Learning about Superlative Adjectives, Picture Book Readers

Puppy Love (Babymouse, #8) by Jennifer L. Holm, ill. by Matthew Holm

Babymouse’s latest fish has gone to the great fish bowl in the sky and it is time for a new pet. Babymouse would love a kitten or puppy, but her parents would like her to prove her pet owner skills with something less taxing first. And boy, does she fail epically! Somehow pet after pet after pet disappears quite quickly after arriving at Babymouse’s house. Eventually her mom draws the line and says no more, but when a lost dog shows up Babymouse gets one more chance. Babymouse quickly finds that taking care of a dog is no easy feat.

Target Readers:

Humor Fans, Babymouse Fans, Kids Who Want a Pet, Graphic Novel Fans, Middle Grade Readers (though approachable to Lower Grade Readers)

Puppy’s Big Day (Bad Kitty, #8) by Nick Bruel

Bad Kitty is totally freaking out, so Uncle Murray comes over to save Puppy from the ordeal. But then Uncle Murray ends up having quite a few hiccups in puppy watching.

Target Readers:

Humor Fans, Graphic Novel Fans, Lower Grade Readers

Rescue & Jessica: a Life-Changing Friendship by Jessica Kensky & Patrick Downes, ill. by Scott Magoon

The story of how a service dog and amputee change each other's lives, told from the perspective of at first a service dog in training and a girl who is a recent amputee because of an accident who eventually meet.

This is a fictionalized story based on a true one. The real Jessica was an adult when she was injured in the Boston Marathon bombing. The Jessica in the story is depicted as a young teenager with a little brother and parents, and it just says she had a bad accident. You also get to hear thoughts from both Rescue and Jessica so the book is a little fantastical. The story still shows how a service dog can really help someone though. There's a little on the real Jessica and Rescue in the back of the book.

Target Readers:

Biographical Fiction Fans, Service Dog Fans, Feel-Good Story Fans, Picture Book Readers

Roy Digs Dirt by David Shannon

Roy is a dog who is a bit obsessed with dirt. He LOVES dirt. He especially loves digging in dirt.

Target Readers:

Humor Fans, Pet Owners, Fans of Dirt Fun, Picture Book Readers

Salty Dogs by Matty Long

The Salty Dogs are fearsome pirates but they are having a little trouble finding treasure with all the other pirates in the area. They have one last hope. A treasure they left on Crossbone Island. But can they get there before the other pirates?

Like Long's other picture books there can be quite a lot going on in just one spread and often those large spreads have a subtle prompt in something someone says for a hide and seek challenge (i.e. if someone says they lost something, you can find it somewhere on the page).

Target Readers:

Pirate Story Fans, Picture Puzzle Fans, Adventure Fans, Lower Grade Readers

Silver Spoon Vol. 5 (Silver Spoon) by Hiromu Arakawa, trans. by Amanda Haley

Hachiken finds a dog during the school clean up and they decide to keep it to guard the stables. But Hachiken has a lot to learn about training a dog, so he does what he does best and studies. The students at Ezo Ag are gearing up for the big festival they put on, and Hachiken's great ability to be responsible and unable to say no may mean he's overcommitted himself...just a bit. He's also trying to learn how to jump in equestrian club but can't seem to make his horse cooperate.

Target Readers:

Manga Fans, Contemporary Fiction Fans, Boarding School Story Fans, Humor Fans, Farm Life Story Fans, Those Curious about Where Food Comes From, Japan Setting Fans, Young Adult Readers

Stormy: a Story about Finding a Forever Home by Guojing

A wordless picture book about a shy, homeless puppy, and a kind woman who keeps trying to befriend the puppy, but isn't able to fully connect until a big storm.

Target Readers:

Wordless Book Fans, Feel Good Story Fans, Animal Adoption Story Fans, Art Lovers, Picture Book Readers

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Marvel's Oz, #1) based on the book by L. Frank Baum, adapted by Eric Shanower, ill. by Skottie Young

A graphic novel version of the classic children's story about Dorothy's first adventures in Oz with the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion. In case you're not familiar with these: Dorothy and gang are all off to see the Wizard of Oz and get his help for their various problems (real and imagined). Oz tells them he'll help them after the Wicked Witch of the West is no longer an issue (thinking that will never happen). And then, Dorothy and gang do the impossible. Oz makes up things to give the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Lion after they expose him for being a humbug. He makes a hot air balloon to sail over the great desert with Dorothy, but the balloon takes off before Dorothy gets in. So Dorothy and gang go on another adventure to go find the Good Witch of the South and see if she can help Dorothy get home.

This version is extremely true to the original, often copying sections of text word for word, and making sure to keep the original elements instead of Hollywood elements. The style of writing Baum used originally lends itself well to graphic novel format, and putting it in graphic novel format helps make the sometimes simplistic and cheesy text feel more natural. Young's illustrations are a perfect blend of whimsical and kid friendly, and make the story that much better. And obviously, Toto is a big part of the story and why this book is being included in with the dogs books.

Target Readers:

Quest Story Fans, Adventure Fans, Fantasy Fans, Graphic Novel Fans, Classic Fans, Middle Grade Readers

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Brainstorm 247: Dog Books Part 1

It is the dogs’ turn to take over the Brainstorm this week and next week. To try and even things out, this week I’ll be sharing some of my favorite fiction chapter books and nonfiction books about dogs. Next week it’ll be the fiction picture books, graphic novels, comics, and manga. Click on the titles to see my full review for each book including any content notes/trigger warnings.

Almost Home by Joan Bauer

Sugar Mae is a strong, plucky 6th grader with a knack for words. That's a good thing. Because she needs her strength when her no good, gambling father comes around and swindles her mom out of more money with his sweet talking and empty promises. Her mom is trying to do the best she can, but eventually they lose their house and end up on the street. Life on the street isn't fun. They go from a cousin's house to a shelter to another shelter in Chicago, but still there's no breakthrough coming. Sugar knows she has to be strong for Reba. A little bundle of fur named Shush entrusted to Sugar in a grocery store parking lot proves some extra encouragement. But even the cutest puppy in the world and the pluckiest 12 year old have limits to what they can do, especially when Reba has a breakdown and ends up in a psych hospital. Will they ever be home again, like when her grandpa King Cole was alive?

Target Readers:

Contemporary Fiction Fans, Fans of Stories Requiring a Whole Box of Tissues, Readers Wanting to Better Understand Homelessness & Foster Care, Suckers (in the best possible way) for Cute Book Covers, Middle Grade Readers

Alone by Megan E. Freeman

Maddie has hatched a scheme with her two best friends for a secret slumber party at her grandparents empty condo for the weekend, but she ends up the only one who makes it. She's told her mom she's at her dad's for the weekend and her dad that she's at her mom's. And in the middle of the first night the entire area is evacuated by the government in response to some vague threat. Maddie hears something going on, but doesn't want to be caught somewhere she isn't supposed to be so she goes back to bed and wakes to an entirely empty town. At first she is sure her mom and dad will soon figure out that she's been left behind, but as the days go by and no one shows up, Maddie has to figure out how to survive on her own and not go crazy as the only human in town with only her neighbor's Rottweiler, George, for company. (And George is pretty awesome for her, which is why this book made the list.) The book is written mostly in free verse poems, making it a very quick read.

Target Readers:

Light Dystopia Fans, Survival Story Fans, Novels in Verse Fans, Psychological/Emotional Health Story Fans, Quick Read Fans, Middle Grade/Young Adult Readers

Chester and Gus by Cammie McGovern

Chester is training to be a service dog. He wants nothing more in life than to have an important job and help someone. But he doesn't do well with loud noises and doesn't get matched on the day the other dogs do. A little while later Gus' family takes him in with hopes that Chester will be able to help bring Gus out of his shell. Chester is a very observant dog and learns all about Gus and the ways his autism manifests. He isn't sure how much he'll be able to help Gus, but he's willing to try. However, the teacher in the classroom next door thinks he's only a distraction, his trainer thinks Chester's talents are being wasted, and Chester is frustrated with his inability to communicate his observations about Gus to Gus' parents and teacher. Can Chester stay with Gus and find ways to really help him?

Target Readers:

Therapy/Service Dog Fans, Those Wanting to Better Understand Kids on the Autism Spectrum, Dog Point of View Fans, Middle Grade Readers

Cowboy Pug (The Adventures of Pug, #2) by Laura James, ill. by Églantine Ceulemans

Cowboy Pug and Lady Miranda are out horse shopping when Pony goes lame and must recover. They inadvertently find themselves at the county fair involved in a horse dispute, participating in the horse jumping competition, and catching a runaway bull.

Target Readers:

Humor Fans, Zany Adventure Fans, Pug Lovers, Lower Grade Readers

A Dog-Friendly Town by Josephine Cameron

Carmelito, California has been named America's most dog-friendly town and there's going to be a huge doggy celebration in town all week. That's great news for Epic's family's dog-friendly bed and breakfast. The McDades are booked with one of the hottest doggy celebrities and its entourage, their long-standing customers the Boones, and a doggy psychiatric vet. Epic's little sister Elvis is in awe that her favorite canine sleuth is staying at their house, and his little brother Rondo gets excited when the dog's half a million dollar collar is stolen and he can finally test out his sleuthing skills. Epic is doing his best to keep his siblings out of his parents' and the guests' hair (or fur), trying to help his parents handle all the crazy things required for a celebrity dog's media events, and he's dealing with his worries about starting at middle school next year. There's a lot on his plate, and he isn't sure he's up to some sleuthing on top of that. But what if his family needs him?

Target Readers:

Mystery Fans, Contemporary Fiction Fans, Sibling Story Fans, Friendship Story Fans, Read Aloud Story Fans, Middle Grade Readers

Dog Squad by Chris Grabenstein

Fred was surrendered to a shelter by his first owner when she married a guy who didn't want a mutt. He was then adopted by Big Tony who tried to turn him into a vicious guard dog, but Fred just isn't mean and Big Tony left him on the street. Jenny is the latest lady to take him out of the shelter. She's a dog trainer for shows on Broadway and TV. At first Fred is taken to try out for a Broadway show. That doesn't work out so well, but Fred evidently looks quite a bit like Duke, the star of the TV show Dog Squad (Fred's favorite!), and since the real Duke literally broke a leg, Jenny needs to train a stand in. Jenny and her little niece Abby are very nice, but Fred is afraid he won't be good enough and will just end up back on the street again. Does he have what it takes to be a hero, in real life or on TV?

Target Readers:

Feel Good Story Fans, Dog Actor Story Fans, Dog Point of View Fans, Likable Hero Fans, Read Aloud Fans, Middle Grade Readers

The Dog Who Could Fly: the Incredible True Story of a WWII Airman and the Four-Legged Hero Who Flew at His Side by Damien Lewis

Robert Bozdech, a Czech airman flying with the allies, and his French pilot, had just escaped a crash into no-man's land between France and German lines when he stumbled across a starving little puppy in an abandoned farm house. Afraid the whines of the puppy would give away their position, Robert smuggled the puppy to safety with them and found himself a best friend for the war. Ant (later renamed Antis) was loyal to a fault. He and Robert had all sorts of escapades and adventures during WWII, and they both managed to survive to see the end. This is the story of their incredible friendship.

Target Readers:

Biography Fans, WWII History Fans, Nonfiction Fans, Adult Readers

Duke (Dogs of World War II) by Kirby Larson

Hobie, a 5th grade boy in Seattle in 1944, is really plagued by the question of whether he is doing all he can to help the war effort. So far he's had to take over being the man of the house so Dad could go fly fighter planes in Europe, and he's just had to say goodbye to his best friend Scooter who is moving so his Dad can help build ships in Portland. Hobie makes sure to buy war stamps and help out with his little sister at home, but when someone suggests that maybe he should donate his beloved dog, Duke, to Dogs for Defense, Hobie thinks that may be too much. But the idea keeps plaguing him everywhere he turns. Mom says he's made enough sacrifices for the war, but Hobie starts to feel that maybe Duke could help make the war end faster. So he donates Duke, and immediately starts having second thoughts. In between plotting ways to get Duke back, Hobie gets to deal with normal 5th grade stuff...making friends, dealing with the class bully, and trying not to be annoyed too much by his little sister. Life isn't always easy, especially when you get telegrams saying your dad is now a Prisoner of War or letters saying that your best four-legged friend might be going into danger. Hobie finds he has some things to learn over that year about attitude and motives, sacrifice, and just a tiny bit of what it really means to be a man.

(We also have Kirby Larson’s Dash, about a Japanese American girl and her dog. It is on my to-read list as I’ve heard it is good too.)

Target Readers:

Historical Fiction Fans, WWII Era US Setting Fans, Middle Grade Readers

Frogkisser! by Garth Nix

Anya is the younger princess in the kingdom. She aspires to be a sorcerer when she grows up and delights in days burying her nose in books in the library. But when her evil step-stepfather turns her older sister Morven's beloved Prince Denholm into a frog, Anya promises to get him changed back. That becomes a bit more complicated when Morven switches her affections in the time it takes Anya to fetch the right frog from the castle moat. Soon the matriarch royal dog is sending Anya on a Quest to both find the ingredients necessary to change Prince Denholm back into a human and to seek aid in getting rid of her evil step-stepfather who obviously has designs on the throne and has just informed Anya he's shipping her off to boarding school...on the other side of the world and which requires an almost certainly fatal journey. With Ardent, one of the faithful royal dogs, Anya sets off with nothing but a recipe and some hastily packed items chosen by the royal dogs (who are loyal and loving, but not the best packers). As Anya heads out, word of her quests soon spread and she gathers a posse of creatures hopeful that the "Frogkisser" can change them back into their own shapes too as well as others eager to see the Kingdom of Yarrow's rights restored. But is a second princess whose education has been neglected up to such big jobs? 

I’m including this one for the royal dogs who totally steal the show and help save the day. They are lots of fun. And just FYI, this is one of those books I wish I could change the cover and title for. This is not a mushy fairy tale! It is totally a quest adventure in the vein of Wizard of Oz with dabs of fractured fairy tale elements along the way for humor, so tell readers to ignore the cover and title and go in expecting a humorous fantasy adventure.

Target Readers:

Quest Story Fans, Fractured Fairytale Story Fans, Fantasy Fans, Adventure Fans, Middle Grade Readers

Gidget the Surfing Dog: Catching Waves with a Small But Mighty Pug by Elizabeth Rusch

Meet Gidget, a champion surfer dog. Learn how her human Alicia, got Gidget into surfing, a health scare that almost ended her career before it began, how Gidget bounced back from that, and how she and her human use their platform to help others. Along the way readers also get to learn about the science of waves, buoyancy, the physics of surfing, surfing terms, safety tips for surfing and swimming at the beach, and how to know if your dog might like surfing.

Target Readers:

Inspirational Story Fans, Sports Story Fans, Surfing Fans, Nonfiction Readers, Curious Readers, Readers Learning about Wave Science & Buoyancy, Pug Lovers, Middle Grade Readers (though approachable to Lower Grade Readers)

Gobi: a Little Dog with a Big Heart by Dion Leonard, ill. by Lisa Manuzak

Gobi, a little stray dog is excited by all the people passing who want to play chase. She adopts one of them men running in a race through the Gobi Desert, and keeps up with him through the multi-day race. The two form such a great team she goes home with him to Scotland after the race.

(Leonard has also written adaptations of this true story of how he met and adopted Gobi for adults, YA, middle grade readers, and preschoolers.)

Target Readers:

Racing Story Fans, Mongolia Setting Fans, Nonfiction Fans, Memoir Fans, Animal Adoption Story Fans, Lower Grade Readers

Hero Dog! (Hilda Cracks the Case, #1) by Hilde Lysiak with Matthew Lysiak, ill. by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff

Hilde has heard that there was a theft on Orange Street. She starts interviewing neighbors to find out what they know about the crime. Soon she uncovers a whole list of thefts, but who is the culprit and why?

Target Readers:

Mystery Fans, Contemporary Fiction Fans, Journalist Story Fans, Lower Grade Readers (or reluctant Middle Grade Readers)


Hero Dogs: How a Pack of Rescues, Rejects, and Strays Became America’s Greatest Disaster-Search Partners by Wilma Melville with Paul Lobo

The story of how the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF) was founded after Wilma Melville and her search-and-rescue dog, Murphy, returned from the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 struck by the lack of search dogs available to help. Wilma set a goal of training 168 dogs and handlers in memory of the people who died in the Oklahoma City bombing. But starting a new foundation is hard. And she had no money to buy dogs, so she set out to train rescue dogs. The dogs too wild and out of control for homes or other jobs, but had a great prey instinct were perfect for rescue work. Starting with 3 dogs and 3 firefighters willing to be trained as their handlers, the book outlines all that it took to get the dogs and people ready for action, certified, and ready to help out when things like 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and the Haiti earthquake happened.

Target Readers:

Gripping True Story Fans, Nonfiction Fans, First Responder Story Fans, Animal Antics Story Fans, Animal Training Story Fans, Rejects to Heroes Story Fans, Adult Readers (approachable to some Young Adults, see content notes)

Ice Dogs by Terry Lynn Johnson

Victoria Secord is a musher, a sled dog racer. She grew up doing this with her dad and she's determined to win a race in his honor this year since he isn't around to win his own. When Victoria hears that Mr. Cook is possibly going to sell his sled dogs, she decides she can't miss the opportunity to snatch up some of his champions. Her mom won't drive her over, so she quickly decides to take a small team of dogs on some back trails. She throws in basic stuff she might need for an afternoon run and is off. Her plans for a quick trip are thrown for a loop when she comes across a guy who just wrapped his snowmobile around a tree and obviously needs help. She hauls him into the sled and listens to his directions to his place, only to be stopped by a blizzard bearing down on them quickly. Victoria gets them squared away to weather out the snow storm, figuring they'll be able to find Chris's place in the morning. But come morning, she finds out that Chris just moved to Alaska from Ontario yesterday, he couldn't find his way without blazing lights, oh, and he managed to get her only map caught on fire last night. Obviously Chris isn't going to be any help, so it's all up to Victoria to get them back to warmth and shelter. Without the map and in an area with no cell phone reception, though, that is going to be tricky. It'll be a battle against all the Alaskan winter wilderness can throw their way to see if they can survive.

I had a hard time choosing which Terry Lynn Johnson dog sled story to share. She’s also written Dog Driven which I also highly recommend, and Dog Sled School which is cute.

Target Readers:

Dog Sledding Fans, Alaska Setting Fans, Survival Story Fans, Light Romance Story Fans, Readers in Need of a Virtual Dose of Winter, Young Adult Readers (very approachable for Middle Grade Readers)


Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know for Young Readers by Alexandra Horowitz

Horowitz has spent hours observing dogs and studying dog interactions. She relates what she has observed to help humans stop viewing dogs as furry humans on four legs, and understand where their canine friends are coming from and why they do certain things.

Target Readers:

Dog Owners, Science Fans, Curious Readers, Nonfiction Fans, Young Adult Readers (or seriously dog-obsessed Middle Grade Readers)

Jasper & Scruff (Jasper & Scruff, #1) by Nicola Colton

Jasper is careful to have nice things, to shop at the best places, and now all that's missing are the best friends. He's cooking up a supper to try and impress The Sophisticats and hopefully gain membership into their circle. But on his way back from shopping for the food items he'll prepare, Jasper catches the eye of Scruff, a mangy little dog who just wants someone to play with. Will Scruff ruin everything or be the answer to Jasper's search?

I could have included this in the cat list, but Scruff steals the show so much this had to be in the dog story list.

Target Readers:

Unlikely Friends Story Fans, Opposites as a Duo Character Fans, Humor Fans, Lower Grade Readers

King & Kayla and the Case of the Missing Dog Treats (King & Kayla, #1) by Dori Hillestad Butler, ill. by Nancy Meyers

Kayla has made King's FAVORITE treats. He's being good and not eating them...even though it is really tempting. But while he and Kayla and Jillian and Thor are out back, some of the treats disappear. Who took them?

This is just the first book in King & Kayla’s sleuthing series. They are all fabulous, and King is always hilarious!

Target Readers:

Mystery Fans, Dog Point of View Fans, Humor Fans, Quick Read Fans, Lower Grade Readers


Roverandom by J.R.R. Tolkien

Tolkien's classic tale of a dog turned into a toy who must go on a quest to get turned back into his canine self.

Target Readers:

Quest Fans, Fantasy Fans, Adventure Fans, Middle Grade to Adult Readers

Sirius: the Story of a Little Dog Who Almost Changed History by Jonathan Crown

Levi is the family dog of the Liliencrons of Berlin. The family consists of a distinguished professor who specializes in plankton, his fashionable wife, and their teenage son and daughter. Levi has a comfortable life with the family on Klamstrasse. But it is 1938 and the Liliencrons are Jewish. At first they think the professor's position at the university will keep them safe but they still rename Levi Sirius to give him a less Jewish name. Then Professor Liliencron loses his position and the family witnesses Kristallnact. With the help of the daughter's boyfriend and a former friend who is now a Hollywood actor, the family sneaks out of Hollywood and finds themselves employed in Hollywood, California. Sirius will soon accidentally find himself a star and stardom will take him to places he never expected, and through a chain of crazy events will lead Sirius back to Berlin and eventually right underneath the Fuhrer's table working for the resistance.

Target Readers:

Historical Fiction Fans, Dog Actor Story Fans, Lighter WWII Story Fans, Reimagined History/Slightly Tall Tale Story Fans, Adult Readers

Sparky & Spike: Charles Schulz and the Wildest, Smartest Dog Ever by Barbara Lowell, ill. by Dan Andreasen

A picture book biography of Charles Schulz focusing primarily on his childhood.

Target Readers:

Biography Fans, Budding Artists, Cute Art Fans, Peanuts Fans, Nonfiction Fans, Lower Grade Readers

Strongheart: Wonder Dog of the Silver Screen by Candace Fleming, ill. by Eric Rohmann

A fully illustrated historical fiction based on the real Strongheart, first major dog star of Hollywood, how he was trained to act, what his most famous movies were, an accusation that almost ended his career, and how that was cleared.

Target Readers:

Historical Fiction, Biographical Fiction, Art Lovers, Middle Grade Fiction

Truman the Dog (My Furry Foster Family, #1) by Debbi Michiko Florence, ill. by Melanie Demmer

Kaita and her family are going to start fostering animals. The first foster animal they take care of is Truman. Truman is cute and Kaita soon learns to love him. But he can also cause trouble. Will they be able to find a forever family just right for Truman?

Target Readers:

Animal Fostering Fans, Contemporary Fiction Fans, Animal Adoption Story Fans, Asian American Character Fans, Lower Grade Readers

Two Dogs in a Trench Coat Go to School (Two Dogs in a Trench Coat, #1) by Julie Falatko, ill. by Colin Jack

Waldo and Sassy are dogs. They are very good at protecting their house from the squirrel invasion, napping, and eating treats. They also love their humans. And when they notice that Stewart, their boy, keeps coming home from this place called school smelling bored and anxious, they decide it must be an awful place. With a trench coat, some balancing skills, and Waldo's ability to speak human, the dogs cook up a plan to go to this school place and rescue Stewart.

Target Readers:

Humor Fans, Dog Point of View Fans, School Story Fans, Middle Grade Readers

Voyage of the Dogs by Greg Van Eekhout

Lopside, Champion, Daisy, and Bug are the four dogs that were selected to be companions to humans settling a new planet. They also have jobs to do on the ship, and the humans on their voyage have been equipped with the special ability to communicate with the dogs. They are on their way to their new home when the dogs wake from hibernation to find that the humans have abandoned ship in the lifepod, there's severe damage to the ship, and they are still a ways from their new home. Can four space dogs make it to the new planet on their own?

Target Readers:

Science Fiction Fans, Survival Story Fans, Adventure Fans, Mystery Fans, Middle Grade Readers