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Summary: For a dog who loves to nap, Champ is very busy. He has saved the day for every Carruthers in the house — from baby Melissa to Grandpa — without even lifting a paw. Is it serendipity or a canine plot. This is a collection of two-page stories in an illustrated book for middle grade readers.
Type of Reading: family reading, anytime reading, middle grade reader, read aloud book, reluctant reader, remedial reader
Recommended Age: read together: 5 to 8; read yourself: 8 to 12
Age of Child: Read with 6½ -year-old girl.
Young Reader Reaction: "Hey, that's Murphy," my daughter squealed when she saw this book. She wanted to make sure we read every story and always left her prized blanket in the pages to keep her place. Some of the stories she loved, others she didn't "get," particularly when there were idioms (like chewing the fat).
Adult Reader Reaction: Champ may well be a canine Colombo. The one-on-one stories featuring Champ and a family member facing some kind of dilemma are humorous and endearing. It takes time to explore the pages to get the full flavor of the story. On the surface, the "happy endings" seem purely coincidental. With a moment's pause, though, you realize that these are people who see the glass as half full, and react to what could be disaster with a positive attitude.
Pros: Everyone can enjoy this collection of short stories about Champ, a heroic (if sleepy) hound. There is humor to be shared at all ages.
Cons: We wish the author had come up with a phrase other than "oh my God." Yes, it is street vernacular, but some still see it as a term of reverence.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This is a book that can be enjoyed on lots of levels, depending on the readers' and listeners' interest in dog stories and senses of humor.
Educational Themes: Use this collection of stories to talk about language, humor, and imagery. Even without the pictures, the events create specific pictures in your mind. Ask kids to create stories with their own pets as heroes. Pause your reading before the end to ask "what would you do" and "how would you feel." Here is a great chance to show kids that you don't have to be angry just because something is inconvenient or didn't follow a pre-conceived plan.
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