Written by Alison Hart
Illustrated by Michael G. Montgomery
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In this exciting story, written from the dog’s point of view, the fourth grade reader will learn about the life of a canine working at the war’s front line.
Darling lives the good life in England with his human family until World War I interferes. She is an escape artist who spends time digging under fences and worrying the local sheep along with her stray rat terrier friend, Rags. After the man of the house goes to war, the mother is about to send her away as too much trouble and too expensive. The government appeals for dogs to help in the war effort, so she is recruited as a messenger dog. Darling is nearly destroyed when the army discovers she’s not suited to be a messenger. Luckily, her sergeant believes in her and gets her a job as a mercy dog, a job to which she is well-suited. Mercy dogs, sometimes called Red Cross dogs, were sent into the no man’s land of a battlefield to locate wounded soldiers. When she is severely wounded, Darling once again needs a reprieve, as all useless animals were destroyed. And, once again, her sergeant comes to her rescue and gets her declared a war hero. Will she see her family again?
This tale of redemption and loyalty contains a lot of information about how animals are used in war and what the rigors of war are like for soldiers. The reader will also learn a little about World War I and the Belgian campaign. Part of the “Dog Chronicles” series, this volume combines history and love of animals in a unique way. It will hold kids’ attention and increase their reading comprehension. The content is well-researched and contains a table of contents, further facts, map, bibliography, for further reading section, and websites. The author’s website (http://www.alisonhartbooks.com/) and the illustrator’s (http://www.michaelgmontgomery.com/) provide more information about the creative team.
- Title: Darling: Mercy Dog of World War I
- Author: Alison Hart
- Illustrator: Michael G. Montgomery
- Publisher: Peachtree Publishers, 2013
- Reviewer: Sue Poduska
- Format: Hardcover, 163 pages
- ISBN: 978-1-56145-705-2
- Genre: Fiction, Middle Reader, History, Animals
Written by L.L. Samson
Illustrated by Kris Nelson, Ben Fetterly, and Antonio Caparo
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We have learned not to judge a book by its cover. Now we will learn not to judge a book by it style. When I began reading this book it was difficult to “get into”. The word choices and usage were odd. No, they were just different. I was ready to write it off as something that could not be used in a typical fourth grade classroom until I realized the brain pathway building potential of this little gem. While the above average reader may find this book intriguing, even an average student might struggle with comprehension without some scaffolding. But with any reader, new ideas and thought patterns will be created.
The storyline is actually quite interesting. Walter has recently moved from London to the United States where he now attends a boarding school for “the once well-heeled (wealthy) who’d fallen on harder times, or for those who had recently accumulated their wealth and were snubbed by the well-heeled. Walter and his friends have an amazing adventure with Tom Sawyer after Walter and his friends conjure up Tom in the enchanted circle in the “not so secret attic”. It was an amazing adventure sprinkled with a mad scientist, a hidden tunnel and plenty of mystery and drama.
Because the word style/choices are different, this book would make an excellent choice as a read aloud. Being able to hear the words should help students read them more easily as well as increase comprehension. One of my favorite things about the book is the generous sprinkling of vocabulary words throughout. After each potentially new word there is an easy to understand definition. Ascertain (figure out). There are also explanations about things such as a land grant (“A royal land grant is a big deal and normally includes more acreage than even the wealthiest of people own nowadays.”)
This book might possibly make an interesting choice for a literature circle choice. Even if the typical structure has to be modified to account for the more difficult comprehension issues, this book lends itself to discussion and out of the box thinking.
- Title: The Enchanted Attic: Wrestling with Tom Sawyer
- Author: L.L. Samson
- Illustrators: Kris Nelson, Ben Fetterly, and Antonio Caparo
- Publisher: Zonderkidz
- Reviewer: Sandi Waymire
- Format: Paperback, 180 pages
- ISBN: 978-0-310-74057-5
- Genre: Contemporary fiction (historical context)
- Lexile score: NA
Written by Laura S. Jeffrey
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Which pet is right for you? Choosing a pet can be tricky, especially when there are so many choices. With help from the American Humane Association, this book guides young readers through what small mammals are like and what they can expect from them as pets. It’s a straightforward overview, easy for elementary comprehension.
Did you know that rabbits are third in popularity behind dogs and cats? Within the last 75 years, small mammals have become a common pet choice in the U.S. because they are low maintenance and can thrive in any sized home. The author methodically reviews the characteristics of each animal listed in the title. Mice and rats are very smart; rabbits are playful; gerbils are gentle, but don’t like living alone; hamsters are odorless, but could nip if upset; guinea pigs can be noisy; and ferrets need a lot of attention. The most in-depth section, Taking Care of Your New Pet, offers tips for housing and diet and touches upon small mammal health, veterinary care, and the proper way to hold and handle the animals.
Designed for third and fourth grade readers, basic information gets jazzed up with colorful fonts, text boxes, and fun facts. But the part young readers will like best is the photographs – plenty of awww factor here, as little furry creatures with their twitchy noses, alert ears, and tiny paws appear on every page. As part of a pet care series, parents and children may want to visit the publisher’s website to browse other titles: www.enslow.com. They can also learn more about the American Humane Association by visiting www.americanhumane.org.
- TITLE: Choosing a Hamster, Gerbil, Guinea Pig, Rabbit, Ferret, Mouse, or Rat: How to Choose and Care for a Small Mammal
- AUTHOR: Laura S. Jeffrey
- PUBLISHER: Enslow Elementary / Enslow Publishers, Inc.
- REVIEWER: Lauren Abbey Greenberg
- FORMAT: Paperback, 48 pages
- ISBN: 978-1-4644-0217-3
- GENRE: Nonfiction, Science, Nature
- LEXILE: 850