SECONDHAND DOGS, by Carolyn Crimi, Balzer + Bray, July 6, 2021, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 8-12)
A pack of rescued dogs wonder about their future when a new dog disrupts their home and routines in Carolyn Crimi’s Secondhand Dogs.
Miss Lottie’s home was for second chances.
When she adopted Gus, Roo, Tank, and Moon Pie, Miss Lottie rescued each member of the pack — including herself, her helper, Quinn, and her reclusive cat, Ghost — and turned them into a family. But when a new dog, Decker, arrives and tries to hoard Miss Lottie’s heart and home for himself, the pack’s future is threatened.
At first, Gus, the insecure pack leader, only notices little things, like tiny Moon Pie being kicked out of the bed and Ghost acting spooked (then again…Ghost is a cat). But things soon go from bad to worse as Decker’s presence causes disharmony in the group.
When Decker convinces Moon Pie to embark on an impossible journey, it’s up to Gus to gather his courage, rally his splintered pack, and bring the little dog home. And with coyotes and cars on the loose, the pack must push through obstacles and dangers to reunite with Moon Pie before he can get hurt — or, nearly as bad, get his heart broken. —Synopsis provided by Balzer + Bray
Author Carolyn Crimi brings her characters to life with great description and even better character development. Each character (dog, cat and person) gets at least one chapter dedicated to their own personal story, adding depth and variety throughout.
Because of this, Secondhand Dogs reads like an animated movie — fun illustrations by Melissa Manwill make this even more so. It’s not hard to picture this pack of scruffy misfits settling in each night with their beloved Miss Lottie. You can practically hear the dogs’ voices and Decker’s snarl. Even the pooches’ expressions easily come to mind.
This fantastic imagery makes the book perfect for readers who are advancing from chapter to full-on middle-grade books. Young readers will quickly fall in love with Gus and his gang, and will easily draw parallels to their own lives. Short chapters and clear prose make the book accessible for readers of all ages and abilities.
After reading Secondhand Dogs on my own, I’m excited to read it aloud with my 7-year-old. Once that’s done, I’ll happily let her explore it on her own. She loves dogs, and I know this book will become an instant hit.
Carolyn Crimi received her MFA in Writing for Children from Vermont College in 2000. She has published over 15 books, including Dear Tabby, Don’t Need Friends, Boris and Bella, Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies, Where’s My Mummy?, and I Am the Boss of this Chair. Her book There Might Be Lobsters won The Golden Kite Award in 2018 for Best Picture Book Text, and her middle grade debut, Weird Little Robots, was named a BEA Book Buzz pick. You can visit Carolyn online at carolyncrimi.com; on Facebook: Carolyn Crimi; and on Twitter: @crims10.
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