Pugs and Kisses

Pugs and Kisses
Age Range
Release Date
January 02, 2018
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Ana Ramos may not have a dog of her own, but she does get to walk her neighbor's adorable pug, Osito. One day, at the park, Osito befriends another pug, Pancake, whose owner just happens to be a cute new boy named Calvin. When Calvin assumes that Osito belongs to Ana, she doesn't correct him. No big deal, right?

Ana doesn't realize the trouble she has unleashed until Calvin shows up at her school. Calvin suggests setting up play dates for the two pugs, and Ana can't bring herself to admit that Osito isn't hers. In fact, her fibs keep multiplying! Will Ana fess up and figure out how she feels about Calvin before her white lies catch up to her?

Editor review

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Romance goes to the dogs
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
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Ana is glad to help out her neighbor, Mrs. Ramirez, by walking her pug, Osito. Ana's parents won't let her have a dog, and Mrs. Ramirez's health won't let her take the dog out as much as he needs. When Ana is out one day, she runs into a cute boy, Calvin, who is walking his own pug, Pancake. He's just moved to New York from Florida, and is getting used to his new environs. When he shows up at Ana's school, she is really glad, and the two continue to meet to walk their dogs. The big problem? Ana has let Calvin believe that Osito is her dog, and the longer she continues to tell the lie, the more complicated it gets. There are other things going on as well-- her sister Tali's Quinceañera is very soon, and there are lots of preparations to be made, including getting a dress and an escort for Ana. There's also an important web site design project that Ana is working on for school, and since she is very interested in coding, she wants to do a good job with that. When Mrs. Ramirez falls and has to go to the hospital, Ana is forced to ask Calvin to watch Osito, since her mother won't let her keep him in the apartment. Eventually, Calvin finds out about her lies. Will their friendship be able to survive?
Good Points
What I likes best about this book was the fact that Ana's cultural heritage is an integral part of the book, and yet not the focus of the story. We find out interesting facts about a Quinceañera and about Ana's family and neighborhood in a very natural way. To me, this is the whole point of #WeNeedDiverseBooks: characters no longer have a "default" of white, even when the stories are more about the dogs, romance, and academic competition.

Ana and Calvin's relationship is also charming. They bond over the dogs and are good friends; they hang out together AND are academically competitive. Ana is intrigued by how smart Calvin is, but also fears that he will give her a run for her money when it comes to being tops in the class and winning the Crown Point Prize. Ana likes Calvin, but she REALLY wants to win the prize and go to computer camp. I'm old enough to remember when girls were told that they couldn't be smarter or better athletes than boys, and it's a relief that none of that attitude is in evidence here! Calvin is very sweet, even after he finds out about Ana's lies, and both children approach the relationship with respect and mutual understanding.

The dog story will appeal to many readers who like this author's Sit, Stay, Love as well as Margolis' Boys Are Dogs, Greenwald's Welcome to Dog Beach, Stewart's Fetching, and Krulik's Puppy Love. As society moves away from agrarian roots, I think that dog books are becoming the new horse books for tween girls, since more of them have access to dogs.
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