Poppy (American Dog)

Poppy (American Dog)
Age Range
Release Date
April 07, 2020
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Poppy is a dog with a problem. She has too much energy, and her elderly owner can keep her only if she can be trained. When twelve-year-old Hannah moves to the coast of Northern California, she thinks she can help turn this rambunctious puppy into the good dog she knows Poppy is. But Hannah realizes Poppy’s reputation as a pit bull means she has to work even harder to prove that Poppy and dogs like her deserve a second chance. Will Hannah train Poppy into the perfect dog before it’s too late?

Editor review

1 review
Puppy with a Problem
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
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Hannah moves from Michigan to Northern California, and struggles with the transition. Her parents are very busy, and her younger sister and twin brothers take a lot of time. When a neighbor who has a dog needs help walking her because of recent surgery, Hannah is glad to step in. Poppy is a pit bull, so people shy away from her, and Hannah, with a port wine birthmark on her face, knows what it is like to have people react to one's physical appearance. Poppy has the exuberance of a puppy, but is very sweet natured. When neighbor Sophia is training her new poodle, Hannah decides that she can take the time to train Poppy. It's hard going, and Sophia doesn't make it any easier. There are lots of bumps in the road, and it gets a little easier when Poppy's owner's granddaughter is in town. Poppy runs away frequently, destroys two different dog cakes at two events, and Hannah fears that the dog will never be trained enough for her owner to keep her. Will she be able to get Poppy to behave well enough to stay?
Good Points
This was a fantastic middle grade novel. It was just the right length, had great characters, lots of action and adventure, and a compelling dog! I loved that her family was intact but very busy. Poppy's exploits are the real draw here, and Shotz's work is very popular in my library. There look to be four of these books so far, all stand alones! So excited for these!

I can't think of any other books with a character with a noticeable birthmark, and Hannah's self consciousness was treated just right. It's not the central focus of the plot, but is used skillfully when Poppy is discriminated against because she is a pit bull. Hannah understands very well what it is like to be judged on appearances.

Readers who enjoy books about dogs and dog training like Tubb's A Dog Like Daisy, London's Strays, or Patent's nonfiction Dogs on Duty will enjoy reading about Hannah's difficulties in getting Poppy trained in order to be a companion dog, and may even be encouraged to get their own dog to be better behaved.
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