Friday, August 5, 2011
Me & Jack Would Be a Good Read Aloud Dog Book
First off, Me & Jack by Danette Haworth is a dog book. You know the type, boy meets dog, falls in love with dog, dog gets into trouble, everyone but the boy doubt the dog, and in the end the dog...
But as you read Me & Jack, you realize it's more than a dog book. It's a book about families adjusting to changes. Joshua Reed and his father are adjusting to life without a mom and wife. Josh's mom died of cancer and the two of them are still figuring out how to get along without her. One way that Josh's dad thinks will work is to get a dog for Josh.
It's a book about a time in our country's history when people all over, including a remote area of Pennsylvania are trying to figure out how to get along with one another. Me & Jack is set during the Vietnam war and Josh's dad is an Air Force recruiter. This adds to his burden, he's busy with work, trying to do his job but taking grief from anti war protesters and fathers who don't want their boys going over there. He's also worried about Josh's safety at home alone, so on their second day in their new community they go to the pound and get a dog.
It's a book about people and Danette Haworth does a fabulous job of writing characters. Josh is a typical new kid who knows how to read a new place with new kids because, as an Air Force kid he's moved around a lot. He has a shoebox from each place he's lived with things he's collected to help him remember each place. Allen Prater is the perfect, unlikeable bully to keep the story moving. As a reader I was always wondering what he would do next, I never thought good things about Allen, and sometimes I was right. Ray is Allen's cousin, sort of the anti-Allen, a good and loyal friend for Josh and his friend Jack. Josh's dad is strong and smart, like a recruiter should be. He's also there for Josh and really tries to make things right. Even though I was upset when he doubted his son, it made sense too. Finally, there's Mark, a recent returnee from Vietnam who experiences the ugliness that was happening when he got home. He even provides Josh with the opportunity to see what his fellow countrymen were doing. As a good Marine, Mark stays strong and doesn't disgrace the uniform. All strong characters and all well written.
But as I said, Me & Jack by Danette Haworth is a dog book, so it has to have a dog. I liked that it wasn't a common dog like a beagle or coon dog or retriever of some sort. Jack is a rare Pharaoh hound. He is bred to hunt and kill and bring back food for the table. When he is on to something his ears, eyes and nose blush and he's off to the hunt. That's where the trouble comes in, people find out what he can do and soon he is blamed for a string of small game killings in the community. Even though Jack can't talk, he expresses so much in his character. He's strong and loyal and a good friend to Josh.
I'll be recommending this to my students in grades 3, 4, and 5 as well as my teachers for a possible read aloud.
Me & Jack is a dog book, full of cliff hangers and excellent characters all brought together in a satisfying ending.
You've GOTTA Read This!
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