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HOME ON THE RANGE (Down Girl and Sit)

Author: Lucy Nolan

Illustrator: Mike Reed

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Publisher: Marshall Cavendish Corporation,

Material: hard cover

Summary: The main character "Down Girl" and her playmate "Sit" go on an adventure with their masters to a western ranch. There, they experience what life is like "on the range," which is quite different from their fenced-in home in suburbia. They meet a ranch dog, "Git Along" and learn that prairie dogs and coyotes are not like the squirrels and other dogs they are used to living with. This is a chapter book for developing readers written from the perspective of a dog.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, learning to read, read aloud book, illustrated chapter

Recommended Age: read together: 4 to 8; read yourself: 6 to 8

Interest Level: 4 to 7

Reading Level: 2.7

Age of Child: Read with two boys, ages 4 and 6.

Young Reader Reaction: My boys liked the book, but were not overly engaged by it.

Adult Reader Reaction: I liked the book because it was an intriguing but non-scary book for reading to my kids. However, I was not overly impressed by the quality of the writing. Although I appreciated the fact that it was written from a dog's first-person (or first-canine!) perspective, it was a bit confusing, at times, to keep the characters and their reactions in order.

Pros: Quick chapters and simple plot get kids thinking a bit out of the box even as they are building their reading skills.

Cons: Sometimes it was difficult to keep characters and perspective straight. That will make the story frustrating for less-than-confident readers.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is a fun story to read, but not a cherished, heartwarming story that you'd want to read over and over and over again.


Educational Themes: From a life perspective, it definitely shows that the "grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence." The dogs learn a lesson that going outside of their fence to freedom may seem fun, but when you meet coyotes and get lost in the desert, you realize that maybe that fence isn't so bad...

Notes: This publisher sent a copy of this book as part of the 2010 Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Award (Cybils) process. This review is not intended to represent the opinions of the Cybils. The book will be donated to a reader in need.

Literary Categories: Fiction - animal characters, adventure, easy reader series, Westerns

Date(s) Reviewed: September 2011

Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at; and feedback at


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