Book: Stay! A Top Dog Story
Author: Alex Latimer
Age Range: 5-8
Stay! A Top Dog Story is about the love between a boy named Ben and his ill-trained dog, Buster. After a previous bad experience, Ben's parents refuse to take Buster on vacation with the family. Buster is left with Grampa. Ben spends enormous amounts of time, both before and during the trip, writing out instructions for Grampa to help him care for Buster. Stay! consists mainly of Ben's illustrated lists, bracketed by various real-world experiences of Ben and Buster.
Stay! is a bit tricky to read aloud, because of the large number of lists and notes, some of which overlap one another and aren't actually readable in detail. It's more a book for young readers to pore over on their own. The things that come across are:
- How well Ben knows Buster's likes and dislikes, and how much Ben adores Buster.
- How spoiled Buster is. For example: "Dog biscuits (2 if he's been good, only 1 if he's been bad."
- How patient Grampa is. (He is far and away my favorite character in the book.)
There is a fair bit of humor to Ben's lists, and it is humor that I think will please elementary-school kids. For example, one of Buster's "Dislikes" is "cat farts", accompanied by a picture of the rear end of a cat, spewing a noxious green cloud. Or "When should Buster have a bath?" "!) Your eyes sting when you pet him." (picture of Buster with fumes wafting off of him). There are diagnosis charts and maps. There's a funny, if disturbing, image of Mum with a completely green face, after eating a bad hot dog. There is, in short, plenty to keep a seven-year-old entertained for quite some time.
Stay! is a book that will please dog lovers, particularly those who have struggled with dog training, as well as elementary schoolers with a faintly crude sense of humor. There is heart in Ben's concern for his dog, but more humor in Alex Latimer's execution of the story. Stay! is a fun, irreverent addition to the ranks of pet stories.
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers (@PeachtreePub)
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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