Review Detail

Kids Fiction 488
Diabetes Service Dog
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Madden is getting used to living with his mother, an Army lieutenant, after having spent a lot of time with his grandparents while his mother was deployed. His father passed away when he was younger. Madden has diabetes, and even though he has a Continuous Glucose Monitor and manages very well, his mother is worried about him. Because he wants to play tuba in the school band, and his mother thinks this will stress his system, he gets a service dog to help monitor his condition. Zeus has been well trained, and does a great job keeping track of Madden's glucose levels and alerting him when they are too low or too high, but does have some behavioral issues. These stem from a series of misunderstandings-- Madden wants to fly "under the radar" at school and not draw attention to himself, but he loves music and is outstanding at playing the tuba, which leads Zeus to conclude that his mission is to "kill the music" in order for Madden to go unnoticed. This leads the dog to steal the teacher's baton, eat fund raiser food, and even attempt to ruin the instruments. Of course, this is NOT what Madden wants, and he struggles to understand why Zeus is acting out. He befriends Ashvi, a flute player with whom is assigned a duet for a concert, and she tries to help out with Zeus as well. Zeus's actions manage to get Madden in trouble with his mother, whom he is still trying to figure out. With a state contest looming, will Madden be able to control Zeus so that his group has a chance to win?
Good Points
There are relatively few books about children managing diabetes, but there is a least one student at my school every year dealing with this. I had a friend with diabetes when I was in middle school, and it would have been really helpful to have a book like this to understand the issues with which he had to deal. The information about diabetes is well balanced with Zeus' exploits and with the band practices and plans to go to contest. This makes the book a quick, compelling read that also has a lot of funny moments. My favorite part was Madden trying to get used to dealing with his mother and her attempts at controlling his diabetes-- I have one student whose mother gets blood sugar alerts on her phone, and will sometimes text her daughter!

It's always fun to read about children who are passionate about different activities, and I am always surprised that there aren't more books about band competitions or students playing instruments.

Zeus is bound and determined to "ruin the music", and that's just one of the many dog perspectives we get in this book. Stories about working dogs, like Shotz' Hero, Mason and Stephens' Ember, and Stiers' Dog Days books are always fun to read.

It also does a better job at explaining the training of diabetes service dogs than the The Truth According to Blue, and is one of the few books about a tween with diabetes; Another D for DeeDee is another recent title that addresses this.
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