Tag Archives: underdogs

A very good dog

19 Aug

Let me start by saying  I couldn’t have read Good Dog by Dan Gemeinhart at certain points in my life. It is not an easy book. And yet, right from the start, I fell in love with Brodie.

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Publisher’s Summary: Brodie was a good dog. And good dogs go to heaven.

Except Brodie can’t move on. Not just yet. As wonderful as his glimpse of the afterlife is, he can’t forget the boy he left behind. The boy he loved, and who loved him in return.

The boy who’s still in danger.

So Brodie breaks the rules of heaven. He returns to Earth as a spirit. With the help of two other lost souls — lovable pitbull Tuck and surly housecat Patsy — he is determined to find his boy and to save him.

Even if it costs him paradise. Even if he loses his eternal soul.

Because it’s what a good dog would do.

For those of us who have lost a pet or a family member recently, this book might be too much. With a little distance, though, it might be cathartic, though you might need to have a hankie handy.  It gives us hope that there is an afterlife for people and pets.

In my opinion, this is Dan Gemeinhart’s best book yet.

Happy Birthday, Neville Longbottom!

30 Jul

While the rest of the world is getting ready to celebrate Harry Potter’s birthday on the 31st, I am choosing to focus on Neville Longbottom, born on July 30th, one day before Harry, and who  COULD have been the Chosen One.

The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies… and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not… and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives… the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies….

Dumbledore clearly points out that Neville was not physically marked by the Dark Lord and the stories clearly cast Harry in that role. But, where would Harry be without Neville? Probably dead at the hands of Voldemort.

As early as the first book, Neville, though a minor character, plays a big part. He tries to warn Harry about Malfoy’s plan to get them caught when they try to release Norbert. Later, he stands up to Harry Ron and Hermione when they try to sneak out to stop Professor Quirrell. The famous trio lost many points for Gryffindor, allowing Slytherin to win the house cup…until Dumbledore awarded Neville ten points for having the courage to do the right thing, putting Gryffindor’s point total past Slytherin’s.

But it is as a member of Dumbledore’s Army where Neville truly begins to shine. He was one of the first to sign up and surprised everyone by disarming Harry. He endured Bellatrix Lestrange’s torture with the Cruciatus Curse all the while encouraging Harry not to turn over the prophecy. In the absence of the three main characters, Neville takes on a leadership role and is the person who gets Harry back into Hogwarts.

I’ve always had a soft spot for the underdog and the overlooked, so I wanted to take the time to say, “Happy Birthday, Neville Longbottom!”.

Everybody likes an Underdog

28 Sep

Right from the first page I had a feeling I was going to like Elvis and the Underdogs by Jenny Lee.

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I also had a sense, right from the start, that this would be a perfect 4th grade read aloud. Both feelings stayed with me right to the end. This is a really fun read that doesn’t seem to be getting much attention.

Benji is a small sickly boy who is often picked on by the school bully. After a serious seizure he has 2 options: wear the world’s ugliest green helmet or get a therapy dog. What arrives at his house is a massive Newfoundland who can speak, though only Benji can hear him. Parker Elvis Pembroke IV informs Benji that a terrible mistake has been made. he was supposed to be sent to the White House. While the adults are trying to correct the mistake, Benji and Elvis become friends, get into and out of some trouble and help Benji end his pack.

You can check out  the book at  http://elvisandtheunderdogs.com/ or at your local library like I did.

This one is definitely on my list for the teacher read aloud club.

Randy Ribay

YA author, teacher, nerd

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