Sunday, January 3, 2010

Flawed Dogs: The Novel by Berkeley Breathed

Flawed Dogs: The Novel by Berkeley Breathed
Geared Towards: Ages 8-12
Published By: Philomel Books
Publication Date: September 2009
ISBN: 978-0-399-25218-1

Prospective readers will take one look at the cover of Flawed Dogs: The Novel and they won't be able to turn away. The comical yet endearing illustration, created by none other than the author, Berkeley Breathed, himself is a true rendering of what readers can expect to find between the book's covers- humor, heart, hurt, and heroics.

When our story begins we find "Little Buddy", a bedraggled Dachshund, being carried to and deposited inside a dog fight ring. Complete with his soup ladle leg, it is obvious this poor little dog has seen more than his fair share of horror. Rather than compete with his opponent, a large vicious looking pit bull terrier, "Little Buddy" decides to give up the fight and simply lies down. His lackluster attitude spurs plenty of jesting and jeering but he doesn't care. Because once upon a time, a long time ago, "Little Buddy" had a great life. It is that life that he begins to reminisce and dream about...

Sam the Lion started life destined to be a prize winning Westminster show dog, but along the way his plans took a turn for the extraordinary. Freed from the clutches of the horrible Mrs. Nutbush, Sam takes after his rescuer, a young girl named Heidy. An orphan herself, Heidy understands all too well what it's like having no one to lean on and no one to trust in. So despite her initial misgivings about taking him along, Heidy allows herself the pleasure of wisking the tiny dog away with her. It's a match made in Heaven. Heidy finally has someone to love and play with, and Sam has a warm and loving place to call home. And then everything comes crashing down around them.

A jealous canine rival, Cassius, determined not to be outdone by the fabulous Düüglitz Dachshund comes up with a plan that'll not only sully Sam in Heidy's eyes but also in the eyes of everyone else they live with. It's a dastardly plan; however, Cassius knows it will guarantee a place in the spotlight for himself. For you see, the large poodle knows Sam has nothing on him in the area of size or strength, yet with Sam in the house there's no room in Heidy's heart for another. Removing Sam from the picture not only clears the way in to Heidy's heart for Cassius, it also ensures there will be one less opponent for him to try to beat at the highly competitive Westminster Dog Show.

Nevertheless, Sam is a fighter. He may fall, but he will always get back up. He may break, but he will aways mend. He may lose hope for a time, but in the end he will always charge forward ready to get back on top.

It's a complicated tale full of up's and down's. It's also a breath of fresh air. Flawed Dogs offers a uniquely marvelous story that will fill young readers with a need to keep going until that very last page. With a story so cute and entertaining, it's no wonder Berkeley Breathed is a Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times best selling author. I myself will definitely be checking out some of his other works.

OUR RATING: 5 hearts