Children's Literacy and Reading Round-Up: March 22
Airhead: Meg Cabot: Young Adult Fiction Review

Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle: Brian Dennis

Book: Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle
Authors: Brian Dennis, Mary Nethery, and Kirby Larson
Pages: 48
Age Range: 4-8

Nubs I loved Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery's picture book about a dog and a cat who, together, survived the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina: Two Bobbies. So naturally, I said yes when I was offered a copy of Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle. Like Two Bobbies, Nubs is both the story of a tenacious animal overcoming adversity and the story of a powerful friendship.

Nubs was a wild dog scraping out a meager existence in the Iraqi desert when he met US Marine Brian Dennis. Somehow, despite the demands of work and survival, the soldier and the dog bonded. They in fact bonded to such an extent that when orders took Major Dennis away, Nubs undertook a dangerous 70-mile journey to follow him across the desert. Their friendship then faced another challenge, this one from a military policy against pets. But the astute reader will suspect, since this was published as a children's book, that things probably turn out ok.

I found the style of this book, a mixture of photos, emails, maps, quotes, and narrative text, occasionally awkward to follow. It's not a great read-aloud title, where the text trips from the tongue. It's more a book that kids will pore over, looking at the crisp photos, and marveling over the maps that document Nubs' journey. Here are a couple of examples, to give you a feel for the text:

"The next day, Nubs watched as Brian and his team prepared to leave. He touched his nose to Brian's face as Brian bent down to pet him good-bye. He felt Brian's head on his and heard him whisper, "Hey, buddy, you need to eat. You need to get better.""

"Each night, after the sun set over the desert, Nubs and Brian did their job together. Under an ice-black sky of a thousand stars, they kept watch over everyone."

"This small dog has done amazing things in his short life. He chose to travel 70 miles alone across a desert to be with Brian. It was a miracle he survived. The bigger miracle may be that this dog of war chose to become a dog of peace."

The text is a mix of somewhat sentimental passages like the above and more workmanlike narrative, like about the dog eating pancakes and MREs. I'm not a pet person. Still, I must confess that the later parts of the book brought  tears to my eyes, even on a second reading. I think Nubs will work his way right into the hearts of early elementary school readers, particularly those who love dogs. Many of the photos are gorgeous, too, making this an excellent choice for reluctant readers. Nubs is well worth a look!

Nonfictionmonday Today's Nonfiction Monday Round-Up is at Books Together.

Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: November 1, 2009
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2010 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, and may result in my receiving a small commission on purchases (with no additional cost to you).