The Highly Trained Dogs of Professor Petit

Our rating: ****

Willie is the errand boy for Puddling Center, a town where all the people think much more of work than play. One day, a showman named Professor Petit comes to town with his five dogs. Willie and the Professor become good friends, and Willie is distressed to hear that Professor Petit’s show may go bankrupt. The cause of the trouble is another showman, Black Hoskins, who is taking all of the Professor’s business. Professor Petit doesn’t mind being beaten by an honest showman, but Black Hoskins seems to be doing everything in his power to shut down the Professor’s show, and Willie suspects that the competing showman is swindling the townsfolk as well.

The Highly Trained Dogs of Professor Petit is a short, fun story. Some of the tricks done by the dogs seem a little unrealistic, however the rest of the book has plenty of charm to make up for that slight flaw. Younger and older readers will both find the story entertaining, and I highly recommend it.

Shark Lady: True Adventures of Eugenie Clark

Our rating: ****

Ever since she was a child, Eugenie Clark wanted to swim with sharks. She spent hours in the aquarium watching the fish in fascination and dreaming of the day when she would be able to study them in the wild. And when she grew up, she got that chance.

This book chronicles Dr. Eugenie Clark’s life, albeit in a somewhat condensed form. Shark Lady was one of my favorite books when I was somewhere in the eight to ten years old range. It has lovely illustrations, and is told in an engaging manner without being too choppy or “watered down” for young kids.


Our rating: ***½

One day, Petunia, the silly goose, finds a book lying on the ground. Petunia has heard the farmer say that those who own books and love them will be wise, so she keeps the book, believing that she will no longer be a silly goose. With her new-found wisdom, Petunia feels that she is qualified to give advice to the rest of the farm animals but, since she has never read the book, her advice has disastrous (and explosive) results.

Petunia is a silly story with a moral. Although the moral is a little too obvious, the rest of the book comes across well, is very enjoyable, and makes a good start to a small series featuring the silly goose.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Our rating: ***½

The Herdman kids are the most rotten children ever. They’re so rotten that when they come to church in the hopes of free dessert, nobody expects them to want to stay. But the biggest surprise comes when the six Herdmans decide they want to star in the Christmas Pageant — with hilarious and heartwarming results.

I’ve grown up with this short book. Every year, I revisit it and find it better than I remembered. Up until the last chapter, the laughs come fast and furious as the Herdmans get a crash course in the Christmas story, but the final chapter is the gem where the true meaning of Christmas shines through.

Bridge to Terabithia

Our rating: **½

Jess is surprised when Leslie, the new girl at his school, chooses him as her only friend. However, he is soon very happy to have met somebody who actually cares about his hobby of drawing and understands him. Together they “discover” the imaginary land of Terabithia and retreat there from all their problems. But how long can it last?

I found this one intriguing. It starts out as a slice-of-life story and a neat one at that. But about halfway through, with hardly any foreshadowing, the plot takes a turn you won’t expect (unless, like me, you had it ruined for you ahead of time). There’s definitely room for lots of discussion about the ending, which strikes me as sad for reasons the author didn’t quite intend.