The characters are all interesting and well developed. Ariel is outspoken and acerbic, and clearly knows that her mother is playing favorites. While it was fun to watch her get into highjinks with Marcus, I was worried about the dogs. The mother's behavior was inexcusable, which will delight young readers, and it was good to see that the sister does come around a bit and treat Ariel better.
I loved this author's Annie Between the States, Hamilton and Peggy, Suspect Red, and especially Under a War-Torn Sky (2001). It's great to see an author embrace so many different kinds of stories, but tie them all to a specific location. This is similar to Sorosiak's I, Cosmo, when it comes to working with dogs and teaching them to dance. The songs seemed to be a little outdated for today's students, but this might be a good book for an intergenerational read because of that!