Sunday, August 30, 2009

YA Weekend

Okay, Flawed Dogs: The Shocking Raid on Westminster by Berkeley Breathed is really a Middle-Grade book. Hmm....maybe we should change this feature to YA/Middle-Grade Weekend? No....doesn't have the same ring. ;-)

I received this book in the mail, I believe I might have requested it from Shelf Awareness, but I didn't remember and it was a fun treat to have it show up in the mailbox. I really should keep better track of which books I request from Shelf Awareness.

Now, I have a huge TBR pile (or shelf really) and I am 9 books backed up in review copies to get read and posted, but I put all of that aside when I received this awesome little book. Freshly removed from the mailing envelope, I flipped through the pages and was immediately taken in by the illustrations! And knew I just had to get to it next. I couldn't wait to finish the book I was reading to grab this one. And in fact, I was completely bored and disengaged from that book (Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore) and tossed it aside to start this one right away.

Flawed Dogs is the somewhat sad and nearly tragic story of Sam, a pure-bred dachshund who finds his way into a young girl's heart. Heidy has been kicked out of an all-girls school and ends up living with her uncle. Sam enjoys his life with her there, until Cassius--another dog resident at the house--creates a devious plot to get rid of Sam from the house so Heidy would then have room in her heart to love him. Because of Cassius' tricks, Sam is cast aside (and thought to be dead) from the house and must learn to survive on his own. He survives losing his hind leg in a hunter's trap, escapes from a university research lab, resides in the National Last-Ditch Dog Depository, and finds his way into the care of the Rough-Handed Man who tries to win money with him in a dog fight. All of this leads Sam to find a poster for the Westminster Dog Show featuring none other than Cassius! Sam begins to plot a revenge plan that requires him to utilize the canine friends he's made throughout his journey. Dog show chaos ensues.

I have to say the illustrations really make this book. There is a new image every other page or so in both color and black and white. I scanned a few from the book and wanted to post some for you to see. They are just so awesome!

Page 56--Sam and Heidy
Page 74--Cassius
Page 109--Cassius comforting Heidy after Sam's departure.
Page 153--Dogs in the National Dog Depository watching Lassie.
Page 189--Sam at the Westminster Dog Show

I was actually just a tiny bit disappointed in the story of the book. It was written quite well, it was just a bit on the dark side and kept getting darker until the very end. Sam had such a good spirit it made me sad that he had to go through all he had to go through. And here I am talking about a character that is a dog! So I guess I have to say Berkeley Breathed did write a good book that could make me feel so much about an animal character! Much of the story is written from Sam's point of view, so his character really comes alive. It actually reminded me quite a bit of Elise Broch's Masterpiece. Not similar in type of story or anything like that, but in how Broch managed to bring the character of a beetle to such life.

The images in addition to short chapters make this a great book for a reluctant reader or a reader transitioning from chapter books to full-length middle-grade novels. And it is definitely worth checking it out just for the illustrations! Berkeley Breathed has also written a picture book called Flawed Dogs: The Year-End Leftovers at the Piddleton Last Chance Dog Pound as well as Pete & Pickles and Mars Needs Moms among others. He is also the creator of the comic strips Bloom Country and Opus.

The book goes on sale September 17, 2009!

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