Book Review: Meet the Dogs of Bedlam Farm by Jon Katz


Meet the Dogs of Bedlam Farm by Jon Katz

This is the very engaging story of the four dogs who live with the author at Bedlam Farm.  Each of the dogs has a particular job that they do and do well.  All except for Lenore, she doesn’t have a clear job to do.  Rose, a border collie, helps out with farm chores like herding sheep.  Izzy is also a border collie, and his job is to visit people who are sick as a therapy dog.  Frieda, part rottweiler and par German shepherd, guards the farm, even chasing the farm cats up trees.  But what does Lenore do?  Lenore reminds Rose that it is OK to play.  She showed Izzy how to live in a house and eat from a bowl.  She shows Frieda how to be friendlier.  She has the most important job of all, creating a family from the individual dogs.

Katz has captured the personality of each of his dogs in both his writing and his photographs.  He tells the story of each of the dogs, how they came to live at the farm, and portrays the jobs that each of them have.  The book is engagingly written with a repeating question of “But what is Lenore’s job” at the end of each section on another dog.  The details of their lives are funny, touching and underline the connection of this family of canines.

An ideal addition to any public library, this book will fly off the shelves and into the hands of dog lovers.  Happily, it is also a nonfiction book that will work when shared aloud, so consider it for your next dog-themed story time.  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from copy received from Henry Holt & Company.

Also reviewed by BookDragon.

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Book Review: Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma


Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

Released June 14, 2011.

Chloe knows that she can depend on her older sister Ruby.  Ruby is a girl who has always seemed to be more alive, more beautiful and more intense than anyone else.  She has series of boyfriends, some of whom never go away, lingering for more attention from Ruby.  Chloe knows that Ruby would do anything for her and that she will always live with Ruby.  But that all changes one night at the reservoir when Ruby asks Chloe to swim across the water and return with a trophy from a long-sunken town below the surface.  Chloe trusts Ruby implicitly, knowing the Ruby would never let anything happen to her.  So she starts across, but she doesn’t find the other side of the reservoir, instead she discovers the body of a dead girl floating in a boat.  Now Chloe is sent away to live with her father.  But Ruby will not allow them to be separated from one another and will do anything to get her sister back.  Anything.

This is horror fiction that is literary at the same time.  It takes its time slowly becoming more and more eerie and strange as the reader continues.   The journey here is a large part of the book, as layers are peeled away, readers begin to understand more and more about the sisters, about Ruby, and about the dead girl, London.  It is a book that gives readers the space to think, to untangle the knot, to solve the puzzle.  It is a joy to read.

The prose is beautiful even at its more horrific and strange.  In the early pages there is this section from page 34 that epitomizes the beauty of the language:

It felt like we could have made it to the station in seconds, flown there and back with a canister of gasoline, our eyelashes glistening with frost, our bones weightless from cold.

And you can see within that passage that even the most mundane, running out of gas, can be made sinister yet mesmerizing.

Chloe is a character who struggles with living in her sister’s shadow even as she basks in the attention that it brings her from others and from Ruby.  Their relationship is strange, but Chloe continues to see it as normal.  Readers must wrest their thoughts free from Chloe’s to begin to understand what is happening.  The world the two sisters inhabit is beautiful, troubling and irresistible.

The design of the book is very effective.  From the cover that is beautiful but haunting to the way the chapter titles are done.  Each chapter title is pulled from the first few words of the chapter, giving the book an echo and each title even more strange weight.

Highly recommended, this is a phenomenal horror novel filled with gorgeous writing and a strong paranormal feel.  Ideal for teens who think they have read it all.  This is a book full of surprises and twists that will have them regretting reading it after dark.  Appropriate for ages 14-17.

Reviewed from ARC received from Penguin Young Readers Group.

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Movie News

A couple of news items about movies based on teen novels:


Jamie Campbell Bower is in talks for the lead of Jace in The Mortal Instruments movies.  Lily Collins has already been signed to play Clary Fray. 

You can also read about Cassandra Clare’s response to his audition tape.

According to Deadline, Mary Harron has been selected to direct Wicked Lovely.  The script was written by Caroline Thompson and will be produced by Vince Vaughn, Victoria Vaughn and Peter Billingsley.  Harron has most recently director The Moth Diaries.