by Lois Duncan
narrated by Katherine Kellgren
Hotel for Dogs is the story of two children who have been re-located across the country to a suburban home on the East Coast and, encounter a number of dogs that complicate their lives. Lonely, living as guests in their fastidious great aunt's home, trying to fit in at school, and defending themselves against the neighborhood bully, twelve-year old Bruce and soon-to-be-eleven year old Andi struggle to adjust in/to their new environs. To matters more difficult, some dogs come to Bruce and Andi's attention, dogs that need care. Unable to shelter the dogs in their aunt's home, Bruce and Andi come up with a plan...
Hotel for Dogs is a children's book that plays out fairly realistically when it comes to portraying the relationships between all the characters. The parents are authority figures, not best friends in disguise; The threats of the bully provoke concern; Bruce and Andi are average kids, not precocious child prodigies... The overall feel of the book is somewhat Disney-fied though: the children a have a bit more autonomy than children would have in real life, there's a surprise revelation about prissy old Aunt Alice and, of course a HEA ending.
Katherine Kellgren raises the bar when it comes to narrating children's titles. Character voices are delivered expertly and without condescension. The range of her character repertoire is excellent not only in terms of vocal range; but in terms of conveying the right emotion behind the lines. Ms Kellgren doesn't pull back and what she delivers is a compelling story. [So compelling, in fact that my eight-year old insisted on sitting in the car until the story had finished.]
There is no bad language, sex or extreme violence; but there is tension, white lies and, the kids do things they know are wrong. One of the dogs is hand-struck by a bully. Parents may need to explain film cameras, slide projectors and, animal shelters (why Bruce and Andi are reluctant to surrender the dogs to a shelter.)
Other Stuff: I purchased a digital dnload copy of this title through iTunes.
This book qualifies for the Where Are You Reading? Challenge hosted by Sheila at her blog, Book Journey. Hotel for Dogs is set in the fictional town of Elmwood, NJ.
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Also, even though there are dogs on the cover of the book, it doesn't make you cry and, no dogs die in the story :-)