HARRY THE DIRTY DOG written by Gene Zion and illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham

HarryDirtyDogOne of my favorite picture books as a kid was Harry the Dirty Dog. It’s the one childhood picture book I easily recall from start to finish and one I can read over and over again. This is the story of Harry, a dog who hates his bath. He hates it so much that he buries his scrub brush in the yard and runs away! He gets so dirty on his adventure about the town that he turns from a white dog with black spots into a black dog with white spots. When he starts to miss his family and arrives home, they don’t recognize him! This is the very point in the story that drops me back into the emotional state of a child fearing that Harry will never be reunited. I was so caught up in Harry’s world, I was actually really scared that his family would never recognize him. [Semi-spolier alert] Because Harry is so clever, he figures out a way [I wont say exactly how, you'll have to read the book to find out.] to show his family that it is really him underneath all the dirt. This moment is so well done in such a “less-is-more-kind-of-gesture,” I am again planted back into my childhood feeling the happiness of their reunion. It’s the books that make us feel our way through story that we love so dearly and Harry the Dirty Dog is certainly one of these books.

Unknown copyHarry the Dirty Dog is bound to delight every child, but will surely hit home with kids who share Harry’s sentiment about taking baths!

From Random House: Gene Zion was born on October 5, in 1913. He attended the New School of Social Research and the Pratt Institute. In 1948, he married artist Margaret Bloy Graham, who then collaborated with him on all his picture books. When their marriage ended in 1968, Zion also ended his career as an author. Zion is best known for his creation of the rascally dog, Harry, who appears in such books as Harry The Dirty Dog, No Roses for Harry, Harry by the Sea, and Harry and the Lady Next Door. He died in 1975.

imagesSchool Library Journal (Elizabeth Bird*) puts Harry the Dirty Dog at #43 in its top 100 picture books.

*About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently New York Public Library’s Youth Materials Collections Specialist. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she’d love to tell you about but that she’s sure you’d find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of NYPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.

 

Q & A with Susan Hughes: BAILEY’S VISIT, #1 PUPPY COLLECTION

Susan Hughes Bailey's Visit Book CoverToday I welcome Susan Hughes to Dog Reads, a blog that features interviews with authors who’ve written a canine story for kids or young adults.

 

AOB: What is the title of your book? Pub date and publisher? Genre? Targeted age group? Illustrator?

 

Bailey’s Visit: #1 The Puppy Collection, March 2014, Scholastic Canada, fiction, ages 7-9, illus: Leanne Franson

 

AOB: Who is your key dog character(s) and what kind of dog is he/she? Feel free to list as many different breeds or mixes as necessary. Tell us a little more about him/her.

 

Susan Hughes PUPPY COLLECTION three book covers in seriesBailey is an eight-week-old chocolate Labrador retriever puppy with green eyes. He loves to play. He has two speeds: full speed and full stop! Sometimes the roly-poly puppy goes so fast that he loses his balance and does a somersault, head over tail.

 

AOB: In 70 words or less, provide a succinct plot description of your story.

 

Kat and her best friend Maya are dog-crazy. They can’t have dogs of their own, so they are excited when Kat’s aunt opens a dog-grooming salon. Not only that but Aunt Jenn has a special guest, 8-week-old Bailey is board with her for three days. When the girls meet the chocolate lab it’s love at first sight. Can they convince Aunt Jenn to let them help out?

 

Susan Hughes Bailey's Visit and Riley Knows Best book coversAOB: Can you remember the first book that made an impact on you? And why?

When I was a girl, I used to read and read and read. (I still do!) When I was young, I read every book about dogs and horses in our school library and then in our local public library. My favourites were Old Yeller, Irish Red, Black Beauty, the My Friend Flicka series, Misty of Chincoteague, King of the Wind, and all of Marguerite Henry’s other horse books. My dad read me  The Secret Garden, so I have a special place for it in my heart.

 

Susan Hughes MURPHY HELPS OUT book 3 in Puppy Collection interior pagesAOB: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

 

Read, read, read! Also, to become a writer, you have to write. You won’t always feel like it, but do it anyway, on a regular basis. Be disciplined. Once you’ve “finished” a manuscript, set it aside for a time, and then come back to it. Reread and revise and repeat!

 

Susan Hughes Author PhotoAOB: Where can readers go to find out more information about you and/or your books?

 

Web page

 

Twitter

 

Thank you Susan Hughes for joining us at Dog Reads!

Q & A with Tracy Weber: MURDER STRIKES A POSE

Tracy Weber Murder Strikes a Pose Book CoverToday I welcome Tracy Weber to Dog Reads, a blog that features interviews with authors who’ve written a canine story for kids or young adults.

AOB: What is the title of your book? Pub date and publisher? Genre? Targeted age group? Illustrator?

 

  • Murder Strikes a Pose, published January 8, 2014 by Midnight Ink. Appropriate for ages 12 and up, but targeted to adults and teens.

 

AOB: Who is your key dog character(s) and what kind of dog is he/she? Feel free to list as many different breeds or mixes as necessary. Tell us a little more about him/her.

 

  • Bella is an 18-month old purebred German shepherd. She belonged to a homeless man named George, who “rescued” her from an abusive family. Bella is huge, unruly, loyal, and loving. She suffers from a rare digestive disorder called EPI.

 

AOB: In 70 words or less, provide a succinct plot description of your story.

 

  • George—a homeless alcoholic—is murdered outside Kate Davidson’s yoga studio, leaving his intimidating German shepherd, Bella, alone. Kate digs into George’s past to catch the killer while she looks for a new home for Bella, before Animal Control sends her to the big doghouse in the sky. With the murderer nipping at her heels, Kate will have to work fast, or her next Corpse Pose may be for real.

  

Tasha--The inspriation for Murder Strikes a Pose and Everythign Else Tracy Does in LifeLinks to reviews or blurbs  (Blurbs under the book’s description.)

 

 

 

AOB: What inspired you to write this story?

I love dogs—so much so that my husband has nicknamed me the “creepy puppy lady.” I adore my own dog to a fault, even though she’s no Rin Tin Tin. I’ve read cozies since long before I knew there was a genre by that name. And my lifework is yoga. My mystery series was like a stew that had been slow cooking inside of me for years.

The one day, while trying to distract myself from a grueling workout, a passage in Susan Conant’s Black Ribbon made me burst into laughter. I knew I’d found my author soul mate. I jumped off the exercise bike, ran home, got online, and proceeded to buy every book she had ever written. While I was at it, I stumbled across a site about cozy mysteries. http://cozy-mystery.com/

That’s all it took.

I began to wonder, what would happen if a yoga teacher with a crazy dog like mine got mixed up in murder? And if she did, could I write about it? A feisty yoga teacher named Kate Davidson popped into my head a few days later. She insisted that I tell the story of how she found the love of her life—a German shepherd named Bella—while solving the murder of her homeless friend, George. She promised me that her story was both entertaining and important. Kate is one stubborn woman. She refused to leave, no matter how much I begged her to. I had no choice but to give in.

 

AOB: What was the biggest challenge you had writing your story? How did you overcome it?

 

  • Self doubt. I’d never written so much as a short story before I sat down one day to write a novel. I had no idea if I’d ever be able to finish it, much less sell it. I overcame those fears by telling people about the book. Their enthusiasm and support kept me going. Basically, my yoga students and friends believed in me more than I believed in myself!

 

Tracy and her dog Tasha at Cannon BeachAOB: What other YA/MG books have you written? Do any of them feature a key dog character? If so, which ones?  What are these stories about?

 

  • Murder Strikes a Pose is my first novel.

 

AOB: What kind of story can we expect next from you? Is it about a dog? If so, what is it about?

 

  • My next book will be the second installment in the Downward Dog Mysteries series, tentatively titled A Killer Retreat. It stars Kate, Bella, and a new canine character, a Jack Russell Terrier named Bandit.

 

AOB: What else would you like us to know about you or your story?

 

  • I would categorize Murder Strikes a Pose as a happily-ever-after, human-animal love story. Although the book is ostensibly a murder mystery, the true story is about Kate’s growing love for Bella and how Bella saves Kate from herself. The story also highlights the issues of both human and animal homelessness in a real, relatable way.

 

  • The series is a personal tribute to my own special-needs German shepherd, Tasha. She is the love of my life.

 

AOB: Can you remember the first book that made an impact on you? And why?

 

  • Books have been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. Honestly, there isn’t any single book that stands out more than the others, but I’ve been a voracious reader since I was six. Reading has transported me to places I’ll never be able to go in real life while teaching me about a world much larger than Billings, Montana, where I grew up.

 

Tracy Weber Author PhotoAOB: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

 

  • Don’t give up! Writing is in many ways a brutal business. You slave over your work, never knowing if it will get published, much less read. You fall in love with your characters. Then, once you are published, your work is on display to the world for strangers to both praise and criticize in public. Dealing with that is all part of the job. Writers are some of the kindest people I know. Reach out to them. They will help you.

 

AOB: Where can readers go to find out more information about you and/or your books?

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you Tracy Weber for joining us at Dog Reads!

 

Q & A with M.C. Delaney: OBI, GERBIL ON A MISSION

Obi, Gerbil on a Mission - CoverToday I welcome M.C. Delaney to Dog Reads, a blog that features interviews with authors who’ve written a canine story for kids or young adults.

AOB: What is the title of your book? Pub date and publisher? Genre? Targeted age group? Illustrator?

The title of my book is OBI, GERBIL ON A MISSION! It’s part of a series of books about a little gerbil named Obi.  Wait, you’re saying, a gerbil?  But isn’t this a blog about dogs?  Well, dogs play a big part in this series.  In fact, the reason Obi, the gerbil in the series, goes on a mission in OBI, GERBIL ON A MISSION! is to rescue a dog.

Publisher: Dial Press 2012 (hardcover) Puffin Books (paper) Also 2012

Age Range: 3rd to 5th grade.  However, my goal when I am writing a book is to create a fun story that everyone, young and old, will enjoy.

Genre:  Humorous animal fantasy

Illustrator:  Me

AOB: Who is your key dog character(s) and what kind of dog is he/she? Feel free to list as many different breeds or mixes as necessary. Tell us a little more about him/her.

Obi, Gerbil on a School Trip - CoverThe main dog character is named Kenobi.  He is a very cute, very fluffy, very excitable golden retriever puppy. In addition to running around the house like a maniac and chewing up everything in sight, Kenobi has a sad-eyed, puppy-dog look that he uses whenever he knows he’s been a bad dog and wants to be forgiven. There are also a couple of minor dog characters, including a really mean German shepherd who isn’t sure if he can trust his owners because they serve him dog food that says “Real Beef Flavor” on the dog food bag but that the German shepherd swears has hardly any flavor at all.  There’s also a Newfoundland who thinks he can read.

AOB: In 70 words or less, provide a succinct plot description of your story.

Obi, the gerbil, is very happy being an only pet.  But all that changes when Rachel, her human mother, receives a new pet on her birthday – a golden retriever puppy that Rachel names Kenobi. Much to Obi’s dismay, Rachel now gives Kenobi all of her love and attention.  Jealous, Obi takes matters into her own paws.  She shows Kenobi how to escape from the house.  With Obi’s help, Kenobi slips out the kitchen screen door and runs off.  Rachel is heartbroken at the loss of Kenobi.  Obi feels just terrible about what she has done. She sets out on a mission to bring the puppy back.  She goes where no gerbil has gone before – outdoors.  It is a world of ferocious dogs, a hungry owl, and mean spirited cats with sugary-sweet names.  Obi has to find the puppy and then get the puppy – and herself – home safely.

Obi, Gerbil on the Loose - CoverKirkus called my book “fast-paced and funny.”  I hope that everyone who reads the book finds it just as entertaining.

Other links to reviews or blurbs you wish to share:

AOB: What inspired you to write this story?

Well, there really was a little gerbil named Obi.  She was my daughter’s pet.  At the time, my daughter was in third grade. The reason why my daughter had a gerbil for a pet was because she really wanted a dog for a pet.  But we lived in a small apartment and we couldn’t have a dog for a pet so we got her a gerbil for a pet instead.

My daughter named her gerbil Obi, after her favorite character in Star Wars – the Jedi knight, Obi Wan Kenobi. Which is just what the girl in the Obi books does.  She names her pet gerbil after Obi Wan Kenobi.  When we got my daughter her gerbil, the gerbil was just a little baby.  Nobody knew if the gerbil was a boy gerbil or a girl gerbil.  Not even the person who worked at the pet store knew.  And that’s just what happens to the Obi in the book.  None of the humans in the story know if she’s a boy or a girl.

My daughter’s pet gerbil also figured out how to sneak out of her cage.  So does the Obi in the book.

ObiSo how did Obi come to be written?

Well, my editor at Dial (then Dutton) called me one day and asked if I had any animal stories – if I did, she said, she’d be very interested in reading it. I told my editor that, yes, as a matter of fact I did have one. But I was just saying that — I didn’t really. So I got busy trying to think of a story about an animal. I couldn’t think of a darn thing, though. Weeks went by and I still had nothing. Then one morning I was at my desk, trying to think of a dog or some other animal that I could write about.  I was having trouble concentrating, though, because I kept hearing this squeak, squeak, squeak coming from my daughter’s bedroom down the hallway.

The noise was coming from her pet gerbil, Obi. The little gerbil was running around like crazy on her exercise wheel. This, in turn, was causing her exercise wheel to squeak like crazy. Squeak!  Squeak!  Squeak!  It was squeaking so much, I couldn’t think.

Kenobi“Hey, c’mon, Obi, knock it off!” I yelled out.

Like the gerbil could understand what I said, right?

Well, the gerbil kept right on running. And the exercise wheel kept right on squeaking. And then, suddenly, inspiration struck me. “Hey,” I thought. “What if I wrote about a gerbil?”

I started thinking about what a gerbil might do in a story.   Well, one thought led to another thought and before long I had an idea for a story about a gerbil named Obi.  And that’s how the Obi books got started.

AOB: What was the biggest challenge you had writing your story? How did you overcome it?

Really Mean DogThe illustrations were probably the biggest challenge.  While I love to draw, I’m really not that good of an illustrator.  I’m particularly not that good at drawing dogs and other animals.  I had to draw and redraw the animals so that readers (as well as my editor) wouldn’t stare at one of the drawings and ask, “What the heck is that supposed to be?” My latest Obi book has a guinea pig in it.  I quickly found out as I was doing the illustrations that I couldn’t draw a guinea pig to save my life.  My drawings of the guinea pig look more like a furry meatloaf than a guinea pig.

AOB: What other YA/MG books have you written? Do any of them feature a key dog character? If so, which ones?

Deep Doo Doo Cover439What are these stories about?

A number of years ago, I wrote a children’s middle school novel titled DEEP DOO DOO.  Now out-of-print, it was a political whodunit.  Who did it was a black Lab who came onto people’s TVs as a mystery dog called Deep Doo Doo. His surprise TV appearances (and political commentaries) disrupted the local governor’s race.

AOB: What kind of story can we expect next from you? Is it about a dog? If so, what is it about?

The latest book in the Obi series (OBI, GERBIL ON A SCHOOL TRIP!) was published last year (2013). In this new story, Obi goes to school where she meets a bunch of school pets – a guinea pig, a hamster, two bunnies, a turtle, and a frog named Einstein who is something of a math wiz – he knows, for instance, that 2 + 2 = 9. Sorry, no big dog roles in this latest story. Kenobi does show up, but it’s just a brief special guest star like appearance.

AOB: What else would you like us to know about you or your story?

Newfoundland Who Thinks He Can ReadOBI, GERBIL ON A MISSION! was chosen by Bankstreet College of Education as one of the “best children’s books of the year, 2013.” The first book in the Obi series – OBI, GERBIL ON THE LOOSE! – was the winner of the Florida Sunshine State Children’s Choice Award in 2011.

AOB: Can you remember the first book that made an impact on you? And why?

Booth Tarkington’s PENROD.  It wasn’t that I loved the story so much, it’s that I enjoyed the experience of reading the book. I would read it after my parents put me to bed.  I would read under the covers with a flashlight so my mother and father, should either of them happen to look in on me, wouldn’t know that I was still up, reading.

Lost Dog - Plot Description DrawingAOB: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Don’t give up.  That’s what I keep telling myself, at any rate, when I’m trying to draw something that I’m having a lot of trouble drawing – you know, like a guinea pig.  That’s also what I tell myself when I’m trying to write something that just isn’t coming out the way I would like it to.

AOB: Where can readers go to find out more information about you and/or your books?

My website:  

Thank you M.C. Delaney for joining us at Dog Reads!

Thank you for having me!

Q & A with Summer Brenner: IVY, HOMELESS IN SAN FRANCISCO

large_1011_ivy2Today I welcome Summer Brenner to Dog Reads, a blog that features interviews with authors who’ve written a canine story for kids or young adults.

AOB: What is the title of your book? Pub date and publisher? Genre? Targeted age group? Illustrator?

IVY, HOMELESS IN SAN FRANCISCO

2010

PM Press/Reach And Teach

Targeted age: 9-12

Illustrator, Brian Bowes

AOB: Who is your key dog character(s) and what kind of dog is he/she? Feel free to list as many different breeds or mixes as necessary. Tell us a little more about him/her.

DICE is the name of a friendly, curious, exceedingly clever dog whose coat is checkered with black and white patches, thus his name. He’s a mix of Beagle and Rat Terrier.

AOB: In 70 words or less, provide a succinct plot description of your story.

Ivy and her dad Poppy are homeless. They spend most nights in a San Francisco park where they meet Dice. He lives in rambling house nearby with elderly Eugenia Orr and her brother Oscar. Adventures include scenes at a homeless shelter, a night in a friend’s car, a visit to Ivy’s school, an arrest by police, a reunion with the Orrs, and an art show for Poppy.

AWARDS:

Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards

Children’s Literary Classics

 Links to reviews or blurbs you wish to share:

“Ivy, Homeless in San Francisco, is a compelling and riveting novel that reflects the alarming increase in the number of children who are homeless and living in poverty in America. Ivy is one of those children. Summer Brenner has masterfully crafted a book that is realistic, heartbreaking and funny.” — Patricia Tilton, Children’s Books Heal

“Often witty, occasionally heart-wrenching, this book offers insight into the lives of those who must endure living in shelters and on the streets.” — Children’s Literary Classics

“Ivy is an engaging, educational experience, with emotional range, density of characters, a cinematic visual imagination, and a heroine wild at heart. We have a lot to learn about homelessness, and Summer Brenner’s saga of fractured family and redeeming friendship takes us deep inside the experience, while agitating our broader concern with social justice. All this in a lucid, poetic prose. She not only will get young people to read but make them want to write as well.” — John Broughton, associate professor of psychology & education, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York

“Ivy is a story of homelessness. It is full of risk and tenderness, pain and insight all mixed with fear and hope. Author Summer Brenner engages readers by setting a course for a young girl and her father that requires connection and kindness in an uneasy world. Genuine characters tell the tale that is at once prickly and gentle. Readers will gain a picture of what over 1.5 million children in the US experienced this year. Ivy is a lovely book on a tough condition.” — Lyn Palme, library specialist, Contra Costa County, California

“Summer Brenner’s Ivy, Homeless in San Francisco, wraps itself around enough realism to give young readers hope that there are good people in our world and that good things do happen, often when least expected. My sixth grade San Francisco Bay Area English students always enjoy the magic that envelops Ivy. Summer’s poetic language captures the essence of San Francisco.” — Janet Volkmann, teacher, Oakland Unified School District, Oakland

Reviews by Children:

“The title made me feel this story would be an exiting and thrilling adventure. The book did not disappoint me. I know what a busy city San Francisco is, and being homeless there would not be the best. Although I would not want to be homeless, Ivy’s story showed me how to be loyal, independent and the importance of being resourceful. Ivy also taught me how much I am distracted by all kinds of electronics because she was a deep thinker. I think schools should teach from this book because of the great lessons.” — SunIm “Sunny” Chang, age 11, Oakland

“Ivy was sad but exciting at the same time. I was wondering what would happen every night. It stinks when you have to be homeless. If I knew someone who was homeless at my school I would want to help them. I think it would be really hard for homeless people to live out there when there is no shelter. As Eugenia Orr says, “The weather simply could not be helped.“ To me this means people who have a home have the choice to go in when it’s cold or hot, but homeless people have to live in the weather.” — Roan Linvill, age 8, Berkeley

“Ivy is a great book. I especially like the way the storyline curves up and down with exciting and quiet moments. When I was reading it, I kept on saying to myself, ‘No, just one more chapter, just one more chapter!’ In other words, I could not put it down.” — Arianna Delsman, age 9, Berkeley

“Homelessness is an issue that affects many different people in many societies. Ivy is an 11-year old homeless girl. She is just a year older than me and I count my blessings. In the book I learned about what some homeless families go through and how brave a young girl like Ivy can be in this type of situation.” — Eliza Leal, age 10, Weehawken, NJ

“Ivy was great, and I mean it! I hope that Ivy, Lost in New York will also be published.” — Isabel L., age 10, Oakland,

AOB: What inspired you to write this story?

For a year, I volunteered at a drop-in center for homeless women and children. Their stories shattered all assumptions and preconceptions about who was homeless and why.

AOB: What was the biggest challenge you had writing your story? How did you overcome it?

The challenges were to create an enjoyable and meaningful story about a very sobering subject; break through the stereotype of the homeless as male addicts, mentally unbalanced, and persons of color; and engage young readers’ empathy for a girl not so different than themselves but faced with responsibilities in a situation she didn’t choose.

AOB: What other YA/MG books have you written? Do any of them feature a key dog character? If so, which ones? 

What are these stories about?

Other YA/MG books:

Richmond Tales, Lost Secrets of the Iron Triangle

Oakland Tales, Lost Secrets of The Town

Like Ivy, these two books feature a city. However, they focus on kids (African American and Latino) from low-income communities who time travel back into their city’s past and forward into their city’s future when they’ve grown up and helped to transform it into a safe, beautiful place for all. Alas, there is no dog.

Richmond Tales won a 2010 Historic Preservation award from the City of Richmond and was proclaimed the first all-city, all-read selection by the mayor. Since 2010, it has inspired an annual “Richmond Tales Literacy and Health Festival” at the Richmond Civic Center. In 2013, a play based on the book was co-produced by the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts and the Richmond Rotary.

Oakland Tales has been adopted for the eighth grade common core curriculum by the Oakland Unified School District for spring 2014.

AOB: What kind of story can we expect next from you? Is it about a dog? If so, what is it about?

Currently, I’m working on a YA/MG science fiction book about the future. I’m going to invite a dog to join us!

summer_portraitAOB: What else would you like us to know about you or your story?

I write books for adults, including noir crime novels.

AOB: Can you remember the first book that made an impact on you? And why?

Winnie the Pooh had everything I continue to love about storytelling. It is a combination of comedy and tragedy that mirrors the human condition. 

AOB: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

There’s only one thing to do to become a writer: write. As for those who have already written and aspire to be published, the traditional routes are difficult but the internet has provided interesting alternatives.

AOB: Where can readers go to find out more information about you and/or your books?

A list of books, reviews, and my biography are available at my website at www.summerbrenner.com

IVY, Homeless in San Francisco is available at Reach And Teach, an online catalog and store (in San Mateo) that feature books, toys, and educational tools focused on peace and social justice. Reach And Teach has also developed a teaching guide. www.reachandteach.com 

Richmond Tales and Oakland Tales may be ordered from www.communityworkswest.org

info@communityworkswest.org

AMAZON carries most of my books.

Web page: www.summerbrenner.com

Thank you Summer Brenner for joining us at Dog Reads! 

All materials © 2014 Annemarie O'Brien. Web site by Websy Daisy. Illustration © 2013 by Tim Jessell