August is National Dog Month and as an elementary school librarian, I can tell you these four-legged canines are a BIG deal to young readers. Nonfiction dog books inhabit one full shelf and another three-quarters of a shelf in my library … larger than any other nonfiction section. I say inhabit but the truth is those shelves are always empty, the books instead being tucked away in children’s backpacks to be read at home. Kids love looking at the humorous and endearing photos of these lovable pets and reading fun facts about them.
This same interest extends to fiction. I have read all of the middle-grade books that I am recommending because it’s the only way I can keep up with student requests for “stories about dogs.” Requests that come as frequently as those for “stories like Harry Potter.”
So embrace National Dog Month by sampling a story full of doggie adventure and perhaps a bit of slobbering and barking. And if you have a dog of your own—as I do—give them a few extra dog biscuits this month.
When Tango’s wealthy owners sail into stormy waters, the little Yorkshire Terrier falls overboard. Lost at sea, he washes up, nearly dead, in a village on Prince Edward Island. A lonely widow nurses him back to health and he becomes friends with a fox and a waif. In his new life, Tango finally learns that sometimes it takes getting lost to find what matters most.
A car accident strands eleven-year-old Abby and her beloved sheltie, Tam, on opposite sides of the Blue Ridge Parkway. It takes the two of them months filled with physical dangers and emotional challenges to find their way back to each other.
Squirrel, a stray puppy, and her brother Bone begin their lives in a toolshed behind someone’s summer house. Their mother nurtures them and teaches them the many skills they will need to survive as stray dogs. But when the puppies are forced to make their own way in the world, they must face busy highways, not-so-friendly animals, the changing seasons, and humans both gentle and brutal.
All Hal had ever wanted was a dog, but his mother thinks a dog will be too messy and noisy. Then on the morning of Hal’s 10th birthday, the unbelievable happens. He’s allowed to choose a dog at Easy Pets, a rent-a-pet agency. The moment he sees the odd-looking terrier, Hal knows he’s found a friend for life. But no one tells him that Fleck is a rental dog and must be returned. With his friend Pippa, Hal frees Fleck and four other dogs from the rental agency and treks from London to Scotland to his grandparents’ home.
Bored by the lack of crime in Quietville, Jimmy’s vampire dog Abby chews up his mother’s entire shoe collection. Jimmy’s parents insist on enrolling Abby in obedience training, and the longer it goes on the more “normal” and boring she becomes. But when mysterious things start happening to Jimmy’s lacrosse team, he and his friends (aka the Crime Biters) realize they need to get Abby back to her crime-fighting ways.
Fenway is a Jack Russell terrier living in the city with Food Lady, Fetch Man, and his beloved short human, Hattie. But when his family moves to the suburbs, things change. Fenway enjoys the huge Dog Park near his new home, but he’s not happy about the Evil Squirrels that taunt him from the trees, the slippery floor in the Eating Room, and the changes in Hattie. Rather than playing with Fenway, she seems more interested in human friends and playing baseball. The other dogs in the Park say Hattie has outgrown him, but Fenway is going to prove them wrong!
Just a Dog – Michael Gerard Bauer, 2012
Mr. Mosely is a special dog. Not just because he’s part Great Dane. Not just because he’s all white except for a heart-shaped splotch on his chest. And not just because he’s super clumsy. He’s special because he seems to know exactly what everyone in Corey’s family needs, even when they don’t know themselves. This is the story of Mr. Mosely, from his puppyhood to the last time he curls up on the back porch. It’s the story of how sometimes a dog isn’t “just a dog”. Sometimes he’s the glue that holds a whole family together.
In 1963, Kizzy Ann Stamps worries about her first year at an integrated school. She worries about the color of her skin, the scar running from her eye to the tip of her smile, and whether anyone at the white school will like her. Shag, her border collie, is her refuge, but obstacles arise even with him. Kizzy Ann knows she and Shag could win the dog trials, but will she—an African American girl—be allowed to enter the herding competition?
Luna is a farm puppy who loves her happy life surrounded by her family and Gilberto, the son of farm workers. But when Gilberto’s family moves away, the new farmer Mr. Thomas doesn’t feel he can take care of all the dogs. He finds new homes for the puppies. But Luna and her brother, Chief, are given to a man who does not have the best of intentions. Hungry and scared, the two puppies take matters into their own paws and find a way to escape.
Return to the unforgettable world of The One and Only Ivan in this incredible sequel, starring Ivan’s canine friend, Bob, who sets out on a dangerous journey in search of his long-lost sister with the help of his two best friends, Ivan and Ruby. As a hurricane approaches and time is running out, Bob finds courage he never knew he had and learns the true meaning of friendship and family.
There is trouble brewing in the Louisiana swamp. Bowser can smell it. He’s handsome, slobbery, and can sniff out LOTS of things. Like bacon. Rawhide chews. And the sweat on humans when they’re lying. Birdie Gaux, Bowser’s owner, also knows something is wrong. Her Grammy’s prize stuffed marlin has been stolen and there’s a weird rumor that the marlin is linked to a missing treasure. Birdie and Bowser decide to investigate and things quickly become puzzling and dangerous.
Miss Lottie’s home is for second chances. When she adopts the dogs Gus, Roo, Tank, and Moon Pie, they become a family. But when a new dog, Decker, arrives and tries to hoard Miss Lottie’s heart and home for himself, the pack is threatened. Things go from bad to worse as Decker’s presence causes strife in the group. When Decker convinces Moon Pie to embark on an impossible journey, it’s up to Gus to gather courage, rally the pack, and bring the little dog home.
Not enough books for your bite? Check out this link. Or if you’re interested in reading a dog-themed award winner or well-loved classic during National Dog Month, try one from my bookshelf:
Or … if you are more of a cat lover, click here.