Monday, September 25, 2023

161. Dogtown

Dogtown (A Dogtown Book #1) Katherine Applegate and Gennifer Choldenko. 2023. [September] 352 pages. [Source: Library] [Animal fantasy; J Fiction; MG Fiction]

First sentence: I know what you're thinking: That poor dog only has three legs. But don't go there. It's not that bad, okay? So, I'm not American Kennel Club material. Big deal. My eyes are sharp, my nose is wet, my coat puppy soft, and the white patch over my eye? It's a charmer, I don't mind saying. My name is Chance. I'm pleased to meet you.

ETA: I first reviewed Dogtown in July 2023. Yes, it's only been a few months. Barely two months. But I loved it so much. The first time I read a review copy. The second time I checked it out from the library. I loved it just as much--if not more. 

Premise/plot: Dogtown is an animal shelter (dog shelter). It features dog-dogs and robot-dogs. (Presumably, this animal fantasy is futuristic animal fantasy). It stars Chance, our LOVABLE, adorable, super-kind hero. He's long been a resident at Dogtown. This is the story of his friendships at Dogtown. In particular, how he made [close] friendships with two unlikely residents: a mouse (named Mouse) and a robot dog, Metal Head. The book contains their adventures/misadventures.  

My thoughts: Does this one feature a dog in peril? Yes and no. No, in that it isn't just one dog in peril. It is DOGS (plural) in peril. Though this one doesn't feature direct-direct sads, it features plenty of potential peril. Does it have heart and substance? A thousand times yes. I loved, loved, loved, loved this one so much. I LOVE the emotional journey of this one. Very feel-good. Very warm-and-cozy. Yet not instant. Do I see myself rereading it? YES. I already want to reread it. I could reread it a million times and still be moved by how awesome it is.

I loved the story. I loved the characters. I loved EVERYTHING. 

My favorite, favorite, favorite element of this one is the inclusion of the BOOK BUDDY program. Pairing school-age children with shelter-dogs for reading time. These scenes were HEART-MELTING. 


I learned something important that day: Never say something about a dog that you wouldn't want him to hear. "I like the moniker," Metel Head said. I didn't know if he'd burned out his bulbs or somebody had adjusted his settings, but the blue flashing had stopped. I could look at him without getting a headache. "Why do you want to escape?" I asked. "I want to go home," he said.

Here's another thing humans are sadly misguided about: Luck is not a winnin ghand of cards. Luck is making a new friend.

It wasn't the way it was supposed to be, with the kid reading and the dog listening. But one look at Metal Head and Quinn, scooted up close to each other, and  it was pretty clear something had happened. Something big.

"What about your humans, Chance? Don't you want to go home?" This was not the kind of question Dogtown dogs asked each other. If a dog wanted to talk about how she ended up at Dogtown, that was fine. But you didn't ask a question that broke a dog's heart to answer. How do you explain kindness to a a machine with a hunk of metal where his heart should've been? I really didn't know.

"Your heart is a muscle," I told Mouse at dinner that night. "It grows stronger the more you use it." 

I can't say that Metal Head was a friend, then,. He was more of a friend of a friend. Quinn liked him and I liked Quinn. But yeah, I did want to see if everything worked out for him. But wasn't the real reason I said yes. The real reason was something I didn't want to admit...there were a lot of phone poles up ahead. And maybe they had signs, too.

The smell of cheese is simply divine. The taste of it is even better.

Once hope gets inside you, you want your wishes to come true so badly, you just can't imagine that they won't.

© 2023 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

1 comment:

Ms. Yingling said...

This was surprisingly deep. I think it would make a good novel for classroom study. I have it filed away in my head as sort of a "what does it mean to be human" sort of story, which is a little odd, since they're dogs. Glad you loved it so much!