Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Monday, January 1, 2018

Domestic Dog Park Dilemma

Those rascally rodents named chipmunks have set up a kingdom on my property.  A series of doorways are evidence of their residence.  They have a roadway from one corner of my home along the back to the other corner.  Based upon masterful sniffing by my canine companion their travel routes have been expanded to include the edge of the newly installed fence around the perimeter of my back yard.

If either of us should happen to walk or run and leap off the deck when one of these striped marauders is present, we will be scolded with a telltale, high-pitched chirping.  Given the speed of my furry friend (she nearly got a squirrel by the tail recently); they might want to consider a move. Fenway and Hattie: Up to New Tricks (G. P. Putnam's Sons, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, January 2, 2018) written by Victoria J. Coe with spot interior illustrations by Kristine A. Lombardi is the third in a series featuring heartwarming days in the life of an ever-vigilant Jack Russell terrier and his human.

I scramble through Hattie's blankets,
searching for the used-to-be bear.  His legs are long
gone.  But he's still got an arm and a head with two 
button eyes.  And most important of all, he's always here
when I need him---just like Hattie.  They're both always
up for a loving snuggle or a thrilling game of keep-away.

Which I am about to win. 

With energy levels in the high position more than low, Fenway scampers from Hattie's bedroom to the Eating Place with Fetch Man and Food Lady and after lunch, back again to follow his short human to her bedroom closet.  With the mention of the familiar word, Nana, Fenway can feel his own excitement heighten but he's puzzled by Hattie's smell.  It's worry.  When she pulls a box out from the back of her closet, filled with items he's seen before, he's more curious than ever.  Yikes!  That was close.  Why was he put inside the box?

The next day after giving chase to a criminal intruder, a chipmunk, Fenway discovers there's something worse than the vet according to his two neighborhood friends, Goldie and Patches.  Shivering at the thought he might suffer their recent fate, he heads inside following Hattie.  There is most definitely something up in his household.  The Gate is up again in the empty room which is no longer empty, Fetch Man and Food Lady are working on a project there and Hattie takes the Nana-box from her bedroom to the back porch.

As Hattie shows her best friend, Angel, the contents of the box Angel is clearly intrigued and offers Hattie encouragement.  At the same time Goldie, Patches and Fenway are racing around the yard when the pesky chipmunk appears.  In pursuit Fenway can't figure out how it keeps disappearing.  Pawing at the dirt and not heeding a distinct buzzing, ends in extreme pain for the little dog. What just happened?!

A race to the vet, Spicy Breath, results in a weird woozy dream.  When Fenway wakes up he discovers the Cone of Doom is around his neck.  How is he going to be a professional?  More importantly, how is he going to eat?

An itchy paw needing many licks, yucky yucky drops, the abracadabra stick, the Nana-box, sour goo, a kiddie pool, a mysterious big truck, and another race to the vet means Fenway's life is full of too many surprises.  Needing a break from this series of changes, one chipmunk-induced catastrophe after another makes everything worse.  It's only when a loving, shared tune is howled that balance is restored.  Look out world, Fenway's back on the job!

This series of books about Fenway and his short human, Hattie, although fiction tell readers more about how dogs think and why they act the way they do than most nonfiction books.  When Victoria J. Coe pens these stories in the voice of Fenway we become Fenway.  We sense the world as he does; developing a strong emotional attachment to every facet of his doggy life.

Through his thoughts, actions, conversations with canine pals, Goldie and Patches, and human dialogue he understands, we are not only keenly aware of his viewpoint but the viewpoint of the other individuals in his life.  The pace of the story matches the pace of a Jack Russell terrier, quick with pep, perception and humor.  Fenway's goal in life is foremost in everything he does; he believes in being a protector for his people.  He thrives on their love for him.  Here are a few of my marked passages.

Her fingers brush my leg, but I'm already on the move.  I shoot out onto the rug.  I'm headed for the door when---
Whoa!  Everything goes black.  And there's a towel over my head.
Really, Hattie?  Is this the best you've got?
One wiggle, two shakes, and the drape-y towel falls to the floor.  Whoopee! I'm free again!
For the moment.  I spin around, ready to take off, but find myself nose-to-nose with Hattie.  And pinned between her legs.
Her eyes widen in victory.  I gaze up at my short human's dirt-smudged face, so happy, so full of love.  She's won.  I've lost.  Game over.
The used-to-be bear falls to the floor.  There only one thing left to do.
I leap into Hattie's outstretched arms.  If the game's got to end, it might as well be on my terms.  I sigh happily into her wonderful scent of mint and vanilla.  And dirt.

Normally, riding in the car is very exciting---sticking my head out the window, the rush of air hitting my face, my nostrils pulsing with thrilling scents.  Normally, I'd go nuts wondering where we're going.  Maybe someplace interesting.  Or delicious.
But none of those things is happening.  This is no normal ride in the car.  All I want to do is curl up on Hattie's lap and lick, lick, lick that awful fire away.
Slurp, slurp, slurp . . .
We zoom.  We cruise.  We turn.  We stop.
Hattie flings her door open, and we race up to a building that looks like a store.
But it doesn't have big windows like a store.  And it doesn't smell like a store, either.
It smells like dogs . . .and cats . . .and . ..FEAR.

I look for my chance all afternoon.  But
Hattie is on me like fur.  If I didn't know better, I'd swear she'd suddenly turned into a guard dog.

The voice of this dog rings so true and so clear as you are reading Fenway and Hattie: Up to New Tricks written by Victoria J. Coe with spot interior illustrations by Kristine A. Lombardi that you'll find it hard to believe Fenway did not type this story on the family computer.  This book like Fenway is clever, energetic, and full of love.  It is about a dog but it is also about the growing friendship between Hattie and Angel and the family dynamics between Hattie and her parents and her grandmother.  Everyone is maturing.  Everyone is learning.  You will want to add this title to the two previous titles Fenway and Hattie and Fenway and Hattie and the Evil Bunny Gang in your professional and personal collections.

To learn more about Victoria J. Coe and her journey publishing these three titles, all the extra items for these books and her wondrous time when Fenway and Hattie was selected for the 2017 Global Read Aloud, please visit her website by following the link attached to her name.  At the publisher's website you can get a peek inside the book plus read the first eleven pages.  The cover reveal for this title is found at the Nerdy Book Club.  Victoria has created a Padlet board of Fenway and Hattie resources.  Victoria maintains an account on Instagram and on Twitter.

UPDATE:  The book trailer for this new book is found at Scholastic's Ambassador of School Libraries, John Schumacher's blog, Watch. Connect. Read., on January 2, 2018.)

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