Review Detail

Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A

Friends, dogs, and candy

Lizzie is very used to being around dogs, since her family fosters many of them, and has Buddy, their own forever dog. When she walking to her friend Mariko's house on a very cold morning, she is surprised to see a beautiful white German Shepherd puppy out on its own. The puppy is very friendly, and lets her check his name tag, but seems insistent on taking her some place. Lizzie follows, and finds that Spirit's family have been in a car accident. Spirit ran away from the car, and the little boy's leg is badly injured. Since the father has to go with him in the ambulance, he asks if Lizzie will take Spirit back home, which is near her friend's house. One of the EMT's also knows Lizzie and vouches for her. When Lizzie takes the dog to its home, she is greeted by a harried, heavily pregnant mother and several small children. Spirit was supposed to be adopted by a family out in the country, but proved to be too active in the company of his sister, so the family sent her back. Clearly, Spirit needs a new home and a sense of purpose, and Lizzie and her family are great people to help him find them.

Good Points
I love the realistic touches that Miles' throws in. Many children's books in the past are very lackadaisical about fairly important safety issues, which can set a poor example for impressionable young readers. Lizzie is also careful about approaching dogs, tells the adults in her life where she is going, and takes excellent care of Buddy as well as the foster dogs, whom she is realistic about leaving when they find new homes. This may seem like a small thing, but it shows a great sense of craft and makes for a very rich, multilayered book.

Mariko and Lizzie are able to have some fun, making maple sugar candy when they aren't playing with dogs! There are also good details about how maple syrup is made, and anyone who has read the Little House on the Prairie books will be glad to have instructions on how to make the candy.

The Puppy Place books include a little bit of information about the breed at the end of the book, and since there are quite a number of these books (as well as a very helpful nonfiction guide), the author mentions the others breeds that are inclined to be service dogs, including Honey, Shadow, Sweetie and Teddy. Such a long series is great for emergent readers who like to read shorter books but go through a lot of them! This author also has a Kitty Corner series for readers who prefer their main characters to be feline!
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