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Waggit's Tale Hardcover – July 1, 2008
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From School Library Journal
Grade 4–6—An abandoned puppy meets Tazar, leader of a pack of dogs that ekes out a precarious living in Central Park. The animals accept him and name him Waggit, after his constantly wagging tail, and he gradually learns how to hunt and scavenge for food and negotiate the many hazards of the park. Most important of all, he learns to distrust humans, or "Uprights." Then Waggit is captured by animal-control officers and taken to the pound. When a woman adopts him, he discovers what it's like to be a companion dog and to be treated kindly by a human, even though it means being completely dependent. This is an engaging story, and the various canine characters are depicted in loving detail. Howe does not romanticize the lives of feral dogs; Waggit, Tazar, and the rest of the pack contend with hunger, illness, and serious injuries. However, the tone of this book is less somber than Ann M. Martin's A Dog's Life (Scholastic, 2005), which deals with similar subject matter.—Kathleen E. Gruver, Burlington County Library, Westampton, NJ
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
When a white puppy gets lost in the park, he earnestly assumes that his owner will search for him. Only later, when he joins a well-organized pack of homeless dogs, does he recognize that he has been abandoned. His new friends name him Waggit for his lively tail and train him in the ways of survival. Led by the astute Tazar, the dogs have staked out a secluded tunnel in a place much like Central Park, where they spend their days gathering food, protecting one another, spying on a rougher gang of dogs, and avoiding the “Great Unknown”—the pound. Enhanced by Rayyan’s chapter-header drawings, Howe’s children’s-book debut presents a charming, mostly episodic tale complete with endearing characters and a convincing, invented lexicon: humans, for instance, are “Uprights,” and winter is the “Long Cold.” Though a development that takes Waggit away from the close-knit pack may leave some readers disappointed, the thoughtful questions raised by his decision elevate this gentle fantasy a notch above simpler animal-survival tales. Grades 4-8. --Anne O'Malley
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Though in first grade, they both read at second grade level, and this book is proving to be a bit beyond them. The writing is very good. However, the structure and vocabulary is just too much. They have a hard time tracking what's going on in the story and don't understand many of the words. For the reasons above they are losing interest and I have already ordered the next Boxcar Children books to replace it.
Last fall, after teaching 5th-grade for 13 years, I was unexpectedly transferred to 3rd-grade. I was on the lookout for good books to read aloud to the class, and saw a favorable review for Waggit's Tale in the Sunday newspaper.
The school year just ended, and I asked the students what their favorite read-aloud book was out the 20 I had read to them. 15 of the 20 chose Waggit's Tale. I have purchased Waggit Again, the recently released sequel, and got 1/4 of the way through it prior to the final bell. The students enjoyed it equally as well.
Waggit's Tale is recommended for ages 9-12, which is fine for teacher read-alouds. For independent readers, I would say it's best suited for ages 11-13. If you visit the author's website, you will find several kid-friendly facts and activities to celebrate the completion of a fine piece of literature.
I read this book in about 3 hours. I didn't even get up once! It grabs you from the first page. I would definitely recommend it to other kids. Usually, dog stories aren't my thing. I've always been a fantasy reader, but my mom ordered these, thinking that my two siblings (12 and 8) and I would all read them.
My 8-year old brother is reading this one right now, and he is really loving it. He usually only reads stories that involve men with tights and capes (ugh).
In short, I definitely recommend this series, I just wish the next book would come out, already! Waggit's Tale and Waggit Again are both GREAT BOOKS!!!
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