Summary: Grade 6 Up-Sidman's poetic observations of beloved pets interspersed with short essays by teens are sure to engage dog fanciers. The poems, mostly blank verse with a scattering of haiku, are rueful, contemplative, and sensory as they comment on canine behavior indoors and out and on interaction with humans, other dogs, and the natural world: "-and I am trying to understand this/ecstasy of stink that has me/retching but made you/dive and roll, eyes closed in bliss-." The occasional pieces by young people recount special characteristics of the canines in their lives, sometimes with almost painful honesty. The finding of an abandoned puppy makes a positive change in more than one family. Another teen writes about the enduring spirit of a dog living with cancer. Small black-and-white photos of the featured animals accompany most of the essays. Mindell's larger photographs facing the poems are often in soft focus. Sometimes the blur is poetically suggestive, and sometimes the indistinct image is confusing. Overall, though, the impressive variety of breeds is winning. Sidman sometimes gropes for fitting imagery, but the pacing and flow of her poetry are sure and her appreciation of her subject is astute. Many readers will chuckle or sigh in empathy, and some may well be inspired to express their own thoughts about the world of dog in writing or pictures. Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Teaching Implications: This text is an interesting blend of poetry, student voices, essays and photograph. These genres tend to capture the attention and love of middle school students. Coupled with the subject matter of dogs and this book becomes an immediate popular book in the classroom library!