In this true story, Roy and Silo are two male chinstrap penguins in the Central Park Zoo who don't quite fit in. They don't take any notice of the fem...moreIn this true story, Roy and Silo are two male chinstrap penguins in the Central Park Zoo who don't quite fit in. They don't take any notice of the female penguins and instead form their own little family.
What an adorable little book! The illustrations by Henry Cole are charming. The story of Roy and Silo is sensitively written for the young ones. I was sad as they tried to nest and then uplifted when little Tango came along. All in the space of 30 or so pages. And I just love that the story is completely true.
Much as I wish this world were more accepting, this book is not going to be for all families. If your family can handle it, I do recommend the book. It's a good introduction for children to the concept of families that are a little different but that are still built on love.(less)
Buck is a dog's dog, in and out of the house, accompanying the masters around at well, and just generally living the good life in California. But when...moreBuck is a dog's dog, in and out of the house, accompanying the masters around at well, and just generally living the good life in California. But when the Alaskan gold rush starts, big dogs are suddenly worth a small fortune because of their ability to pull fully-laden sleds. Buck is furtively sold by one of the gardeners and he finds himself in a veritable Hell on earth, but this version of Hell is frozen over.
But Buck is a survivor and he adapts to his new circumstances. No, he doesn't adapt; he thrives.
This was shelved in the juvenile section of my local library, and I have to say that surprises me a little bit. It's just that the vocabulary seemed pretty tough for the juvenile crowd. Had I read this as a pre-teen, I would have hated it. I would have been focused on Buck being kidnapped and how hard his life was in Alaska.
Now that I'm a little older, I appreciate the book more. Some parts bothered me, as Buck passed through the hands of various owners, some of whom were vicious. I'm pretty sure I just skimmed through the worst of the beatings. I ultimately found myself admiring Buck's strength. He thrived on his work and he thrived on being the Alpha dog. He was ultimately in his element. The harsh life he found himself in brought out some of his worst and best qualities. Isn't it funny how the two just naturally go hand in hand in some situations? He's a bully but he's a survivor. He's a natural leader. He has a boundless capacity for love. He's a hard work. He's intuitive. He gives his all to every task he's given. There's a lot to admire in him, even when he's practically feral.
The essay writer I keep buried (deeply) within sees the potential here for a great essay on the nature of man and beast and how our civility is nothing more than a thin veneer over our baser instincts. Some of my favorite parts in the book are when buck's ancestral memories come bubbling up and he can remember his ancestors living with cave men at the dawn of time.
If you can get through the sections of abuse, I do recommend this classic adventure tale. It's a quick read, it left me thinking, and it would be perfect to read as a winter storm blows outside. (less)
I loved the Frog and Toad books when I was little. My mom bought this previously-unpublished collection for me a couple of years ago. It's not really...moreI loved the Frog and Toad books when I was little. My mom bought this previously-unpublished collection for me a couple of years ago. It's not really an official Frog and Toad book, but you can see how those developed from this earlier, private work. The poetry is cute and fun, as are the drawings. Families should enjoy reading this together.(less)
Cassie Dasent is growing up in an Arctic research station with her dad and his team. Her grandmother has always told Cassie stories about her mom and...moreCassie Dasent is growing up in an Arctic research station with her dad and his team. Her grandmother has always told Cassie stories about her mom and how the family lost her to the North Wind and the Polar Bear King. When Cassie was younger, she believed these stories, but as she's grown older, she hears them as a metaphor for her mother's death.
Until she meets the Polar Bear King.
Cassie has a chance to save her mother. All she has to do is marry the King. Can she be that brave for a woman she doesn't even remember?
I enjoyed the way that this fairy tale has such a very scientific background. I forget sometimes, but I did earn my biology degree back in the day, so to have that mixed in with a fairy tale was absolutely perfect for me. Don't get all weirded out by that. There's nothing difficult to understand (I promise), it's just that Cassie has been trained as a scientist all her life and suddenly she's in the middle of a fairy tale. I liked seeing her adapt to that and shift her world view. I also liked the way that her training made Bear's job easier. Now that I think about it, having the book set in the modern world makes me feel like magic can be around any corner. And isn't that nice to think about?
I liked Cassie as a heroine because she was feisty and because she took this changing world in stride. She knew what she wanted to do and she went for it. Absolutely nothing stood in her way.
I even liked Bear and how much he cared about his duties. There is one scene that really bothered my latent feminist tendencies though. I understand where he's coming from, but it really, really bothered me.
I really liked this take on "East of the Sun, West of the Moon." I've also read Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George, and I have to say that I prefer Ice. I always do better with characters I can relate to and understand, and Cassie did that for me. I liked the twists the story took. I did guess what was going to happen at the end, but not until I was already in the middle of the big climax.
My one real complaint is that the book just stopped. Things are technically resolved, but I do like some sort of epilogue or afterward, and I didn't get that here.
I do recommend this for fans of fairy tale retellings. It's an enjoyable take on the original tale with a likeable heroine as well.
Chet and his human, Bernie, are a private investigating team. When a missing teen case comes their way, Bernie is initially reluctant to take it. He e...moreChet and his human, Bernie, are a private investigating team. When a missing teen case comes their way, Bernie is initially reluctant to take it. He eventually does and the girl shows up under her own steam hours later.
But then she goes missing for real. Bernie can just feel that something is really wrong this time. He and Chet go on the hunt, knowing that the more time passes without a ransom note, the worse things look for the missing girl.
What a cute book! Chet just cracked me up! Unlike Enzo, the wise canine narrator of The Art of Racing in the Rain, Chet is all dog. His attention span is short. He loves a good steak. He loves treats and the people who hand them out. Unless that person is a perp. Then he'd rather have a bite of their pant leg. And he definitely wants to meet the lady dog he hears barking down the street...
I had a good idea from pretty early on what was going to happen because Chet stumbles into it. The suspense comes from wondering if Bernie's going to figure it out in time.
Bits of the story seemed implausible, but there are amazing animal stories in the news all the time. Who am I to say what Chet could or couldn't do?
I read this on the treadmill at the gym, and it was great for passing the time. I was so caught up in Chet and Bernie that I didn't spend too much time watching the clock. I don't think I ever laughed out loud, but it was a close thing. I know I was grinning like an idiot a few times.
Don't expect classic literature here, but if you're intrigued by the idea of a funny mystery told by a loveable, mostly goofy dog, pick this up.(less)
Susannah Charleson sort of fell into search-and-rescue. After volunteering as an assistant for her local search-and-rescue team, she eventually receiv...moreSusannah Charleson sort of fell into search-and-rescue. After volunteering as an assistant for her local search-and-rescue team, she eventually received approval to train a dog of her own. After a prolonged nation-wide search, the Golden Retriever Puzzle landed in her lap.
I'm not a huge non-fiction reader. Let's take a peek at my shelves, shall we? Let's see.... I've labeled 1252 read books as fiction and 129 as non-fiction. Yeah, I'm not a big fan of the true stories.
Yet I was drawn to the story of Susannah and Puzzle. I don't watch the news a lot, but even I have noticed that whenever a disaster happens, there's always footage of a SAR (search-and-rescue) worker and his or her dog in the background. I did not realize that these workers are volunteers who spend hours training each week, not to mention the time that they spend actively searching. What a huge commitment to make to help out other people.
When I was asked if I wanted to read and review this book, I asked the publicist, "Is this one of those books where you get all attached to the animal and then you sob the last fifty pages as they get sick and die? 'Cuz I don't do the whole crying thing." To my relief, the answer is that Puzzle is still alive and well.
And what a dog Puzzle is! She is highly intelligent and creative, and through Susannah's eyes we can watch Puzzle reasoning her way through the problems she's confronted with. I was amazed at some of the stories I read, not just about Puzzle but about all the dogs in their SAR team. I don't want to give anything away, so I won't say much, but just think about training in burnt buildings and the myriad of scents these dogs must be confronted with. I had no idea that SAR dogs can work on the water also. Who knew? Oh, and the picture of the volunteer and his dog rappelling down the side of a building together blew me away. A dog calmly rappelling? Wow.
There's one section where Susannah writes feelingly about her time as an assistant on the search after the Columbia space shuttle exploded. She handled it with sensitivity, but it was heart-breaking to read about. Even the dogs suffered from burnout on that search.
I think part of the reason the author chose to write this memoir is to confront the misconceptions the public, especially those who work in public services such as law enforcement and emergency medicine, have about what exactly the dogs can do. She quotes one officer who tells her that he hates to see the dogs called in because that means they've given up hope on finding a live person and believe they're now searching for a body. She gears up to tell him that these dogs can practically work miracles and they should always be called to a search early on when he cuts her off and says, "We only use dogs for human remains....Live people just don't smell bad enough." Susannah amply proves her point in this book that the dogs absolutely should be called in before all hope is given up.
Training Puzzle is no easy task. A dog as bright, independent, and inquisitive as she is has her own ideas about proper behavior. Convincing her otherwise provides some entertaining moments. Especially when they share the house with a multitude of jealous Pomeranians. They all have to play the searching game! And when Puzzle decides to find someone's hidden stash of treats--well, let's just say the results aren't pretty but they're funny.
I think animal lovers of all kinds will love this book. It kept my attention, and I even kept reading bits to my husband, something I don't recall ever doing with a non-fiction book before. I also think it's important for the law enforcement and emergency medical communities to give it a try just so they do know the dogs' abilities. I loved learning about these dogs and their volunteer handlers, and I loved "meeting" Puzzle and Susannah, may they share a long and healthy partnership!
Thanks to the publicist for sending me a copy of this wonderful book for review.(less)
When Janet Elder was diagnosed with breast cancer, she and her husband promised their twelve-year-old son Michael that they would get him a puppy as s...moreWhen Janet Elder was diagnosed with breast cancer, she and her husband promised their twelve-year-old son Michael that they would get him a puppy as soon as she was better. They realized that life is too short to deny their son something he so desperately wanted, but they also knew that she would be in no condition to care for a puppy for a while.
True to their word, they got Michael a red toy poodle, whom he named Huck and whom they all immediately fell in love with. They couldn't imagine a life without Huck in it. Then, while they were on a much-needed vacation and Huck was staying with Janet's sister in New Jersey, the unthinkable happened. Huck ran away. The family immediately returned to start looking for their dog, and they found unexpected help throughout the small town of Ramsey, New Jersey.
This was a heart-warming story, but, being honest, I didn't find it very unexpected. I think being from a small town (it's not even technically a town) and living my whole life in a couple of small towns within half an hour of home skewed my perspective a little. I would have been more surprised if the people they came across didn't offer to help. Pretty much every business in the small towns I know have a community board to post lost dog signs and business cards. That said, this was a reminder not to take that for granted. Huck and his family live in New York, and they were amazed that perfect strangers spoke to them, helped them look, and let them post Lost Dog signs.
That's really about all I have to say. Huck sounds like a very sweet dog, and animal lovers of all kinds will enjoy this tale of "hope and happy endings."(less)
Anything that keeps me smiling through the whole little book deserves at least 4 stars. And who doesn't love those lovable, cute, cuddly, Twisted Whis...moreAnything that keeps me smiling through the whole little book deserves at least 4 stars. And who doesn't love those lovable, cute, cuddly, Twisted Whiskers animals?(less)
We got this for my brother-in-law for Christmas. *making sure he won't see this*
Of course I had to check it out first. I'd never heard of the LOLcatz,...moreWe got this for my brother-in-law for Christmas. *making sure he won't see this*
Of course I had to check it out first. I'd never heard of the LOLcatz, but this was very cute and funny. My favorites included the surveillance kitteh and the cats doing invisible things. Invisible kick to the gut anyone? Recommended for cat lovers. I also just had to subscribe to the feed at icanhascheezburger.com.(less)
Do we all know the basic story of Cujo? Big, lovable St. Bernard gets rabies and goes on a rampage. That's it. Sounds so simple, and it mostly is, but...moreDo we all know the basic story of Cujo? Big, lovable St. Bernard gets rabies and goes on a rampage. That's it. Sounds so simple, and it mostly is, but King can tell one heck of a story.
Really, this was about 3.5 stars for me, but I'm rounding it up because I read it without once closing it, in one 12-hour night shift, without even thinking about getting tired. In fact, I found myself idly wandering around the office, doing things that needed to be done, holding this book in one hand and working with the other. I seriously couldn't put it down.
But it was a little weak. There was this little subplot where he tried to make the story supernatural. I thought it was silly and unnecessary. It was scarier for being something that I (in my complete ignorance of rabies) think could maybe happen, at least for a little while.
And can I go on record as saying that I hate the name Tadder? If Tad is too short for you, why not move on to Theo? Your kid will not thank you for Tadder when he's being beaten up on the playground. I'm just glad I had finished this before my husband said, "How do you know he didn't mean it to sound like tater?"
But the fact that almost all the "horror" elements take place in such a confined space with just three characters, one of whom is a St. Bernard, earns King huge points. This really should not have been a page turner, and yet it was. There is a reason the man is so popular.(less)
My much-younger cousins introduced me to these. I don't actually remember reading them until I bought them for two little boys I know. So my husband a...moreMy much-younger cousins introduced me to these. I don't actually remember reading them until I bought them for two little boys I know. So my husband and I are sitting in the living room floor, wrapping Christmas presents, and I pick this one up and start reading aloud. No more wrapping from me! I had to read both of them out loud, complete with claps and my very best Spanish accent! Tons of fun and highly recommended for family read alongs.(less)
It is time for this series to die. I have obviously loved it, but it has outlived its originality and needs to be put down.
Koko's whiskers still quiv...moreIt is time for this series to die. I have obviously loved it, but it has outlived its originality and needs to be put down.
Koko's whiskers still quiver, and he still does his best to give clues and solve the murder, but Qwill is too busy being the eligible-bachelor-about-town to notice, at least until after someone else has solved the murder. Then he thinks, "So that's why Koko freaked out whenever so-and-so walked into the room. Hmmm. I wonder what [insert female character's name here:] is doing tonight?"
It's always fun to check back in with the gang from Pickax, but I give up. These are nothing more than catalogs of Qwill's latest columns and dates at this point.
Don't let me dissuade anyone from starting the series; they are really good cozy mysteries at the beginning. Just give up on them well before this point.(less)