Book Reviews for Young Readers


“Cat Tales: True Stories of Kindness and Companionship with Kitties”
By Aline Alexander Newman, foreword by Mieshelle Nagelschneider, Cat Behaviorist, c.2017, National Geographic, $12.99, 160 pages 

Cats, as you’re fully aware, are awesome! Read about one cat who found its way home after getting lost, 190 miles away; and a wartime kitty that saved sailors’ lives with his hunting skills, and a deaf cat that learned sign language.

People sometimes think that cats are selfish, but cats care. Monty, for instance, keeps track of his owner’s diabetes and warns her of any problems. And Pudditat is a “guide cat” for a blind, formerly-abused dog.

Known for nighttime prowling, cats love an adventure. Dodger figured out how to use the bus system: he roams all day, and takes the bus home at night. Also read about Kuli the surfing cat; Millie the rock-climbing cat; and Didga, a cat that taught herself to skateboard.

Filled with plenty of full-color pictures, sidebars, and mini-chapters as well as full-size chapters on all things catty, “Cat Tales” is a delightful way for those who practice feline fondness to spend their time.

This book seems to be meant more for 10-to-14-year-olds who might not care about smooth writing. Adults may be amused by this book, but the readers who’ll enjoy “Cat Tales” the most will probably fall into that latter cat-egory.

By Denise Gosliner Orenstein, c.2017, Scholastic, $16.99, 224 pages

11-year-old Yonder was sitting on the steps of the shack she called home when the filthy, one-eyed pony walked up to her. He smelled bad and he was fat. Yonder knew exactly who he belonged to: old Miss Enid, who treated the animal badly, which was probably why the pony hung around Yonder’s house. Yonder named him for the very thing he seemed to love.

Dirt loved Yonder, too. He seemed to understand what she was thinking. He was her only friend, so when she found out that Enid was trying to sell Dirt for horsemeat, Yonder knew she had to act fast. She hid him in the only place she knew he’d be safe: her house.

But you can’t hide a 300-pound pony in a house forever. Especially when the pony’s owner wants her pony back…

Your horse-crazy 8-to-14-year-old wants this book. And “Dirt” will gallop right into her heart.

Truly, the only thing to say about a pony that chooses his girl is that its every horse-wanting child’s dream. Dirt does that, and though he’s the comic relief in this book, he’s not a caricature; the author makes him authentic enough.

“Finding Gobi: The True Story of One Little Dog’s
Big Journey” By Dion Leonard, c.2017, Tommy Nelson /HarperCollins, $14.99, 208 pages

Dion Leonard loved to run.

He’d signed up to run 70 miles through China.

And then Dion saw the dog.

She was kind of scruffy, with a funny-looking tail and hair around her nose that made her look like she had a beard. He patted her and sent her off, but when the race started, she started running right next to him! She paced him until that night at runner’s camp, then she curled up next to him in his tent.

The next day, the little dog ran alongside Dion, up rocks and across sand. She never got tired, and he started to like having this companion on the marathon. He made arrangements to get her across the most dangerous part of the race; those little paws simply wouldn’t be able to make it across the Gobi desert.

Gobi. There. The dog had a name.

By the end of the marathon, he had fallen in love with the little brown dog and vowed to take her home to Scotland with him. That was easier said than done: there was yards of paperwork, all kinds of tests, quarantine, and several airplane rides. But those wasn’t the hardest parts.

Someone, it seemed, wanted to make a profit off Dion’s quest to bring his dog home. And others didn’t want his dog around at all.

Who can resist a tale of determination against all odds, cost, and logistics, when it comes to the love of a dog? Read this along with your 8-to-12-year-old. As much as you love your dog, you’ll “get” this book, so make a run on it.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two pampered pooches and 13,000 books.