Book Review: Good Boy, Achilles

41BsLQT-eTLGenre: Christian, Children’s Literature

Disclosure: I am a friend of the author, and this book was sent to me free of charge to review.

There are good books, and there are books full of goodness. Good Boy, Achilles has the unusual distinction of being both. The premise of the book is that the special relationship between humans and domestic canines is a divine Gift to help us navigate the joys, troubles and distresses of life.  Each dog is specially made, to love, protect and guide its special human. The dogs understand their role, even when the humans do not.

The plot centers around a young boy, Jeremy, who lives on a family farm with his parents. The farm dog, Ginger, has a litter of puppies, one of whom forms a special bond with Jeremy. Conflict arises when Jeremy is not able to keep “his” puppy because his father is worried about the added expense veterinary care and feeding such a large dog would add to the family budget.

The author does an excellent job of showing and not telling the inner emotions of Jeremy—a visual painting of a shuffled walk, a slammed door, a tearful run through a corn field. This reader was reminded of her own childhood—of times when she was wondering at dinner when she was going to get into trouble for something that had happened earlier in the day. The writing about Jeremy effectively lets the reader really get to know and understand Jeremy.

The dogs are precious and lovable, and one can’t help but want to give Achilles a hero’s welcome by the end of the book. I would have liked to have seen more of the same kind of writing that we saw for Jeremy’s character used for the dog’s growth and learning of his role as well.

It is a lovely book. Children of reading age who have a special pet will enjoy it, but it’s a good book for parents to read to a younger child as well. And, I know many adults who will enjoy this book also.

Literal Power

Old Advice for a New AgeThere are few things in life that can truly give a person power. Learning to speak multiple languages is one of those things. Becoming comfortable with mathematics is another, and learning to read is another. And one more: being able to read. There is incredible power in being able to read. In this era of technology, screen media, and audio and visual stimuli, we often overlook the power of simple literacy.

However, ask the parents of the four-year-old who can suddenly read the signs on the vendor carts at the State Fair—how hard is it to redirect the little blossoming literary critic to the parents’ agenda now that she can read “ice cream”? Just that little bit of knowledge has given that child new power and her parents new headaches. Continue reading “Literal Power”

Anniversaries and Birthdays

party_eWe visited my husband’s parents down in Rockford, IL, for an early celebration of my birthday. So, as I sit down to write, I am thinking a lot about birthdays and anniversaries of major life events.

Cheese Grits, my newspaper column and the seed for this blog, first appeared in my local newspaper on February 7, 2008, so for nearly five years I have been sharing random stories and thoughts with you. Five years is a fairly significant anniversary. For children, five is a big birthday, representing a move from toddler to young child, and quite often from day care to kindergarten. For wedded couples, the traditional gift of wood is given to celebrate the strength of the marriage bond that has grown over the first five years of life together. Continue reading “Anniversaries and Birthdays”

The Dog and the Bird

WritingMy dad recently sent me a box of papers that he had found. Several of them were papers from college—old tests and lab reports. Some of them were older, my immunization record from my pediatrician and the record of the registration of my birth. Others were older still: several mimeographed pages of family ancestry on my mother’s side, so old that they did not include the last addition to my generation—me. They did include notes in my maternal grandmother’s school-teacher-perfect handwriting and even a poem that she wrote—the original with edits that she made. I was aware of the poem, but had only seen the edited version. I had never before seen the original.

The papers he sent also included something I never knew about: Continue reading “The Dog and the Bird”