It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 6/6/16

IMWAYR-2015-logoOn the blog:

In reading:

two white rabbits

Jairo Buitrago’s Two White Rabbits is a sensitive, artful look at a little girl’s experience trying to cross borders as a migrant. The exquisite illustrations by Rafael Yockteng help connect some of the dots that are intentionally missing in the narrative. A title that manages to be both timely and timeless.


The most absurd title in the series so far, Showoff features the transformation of the semi-insane guard dog, Luthor, into a magnificent show dog. I did enjoy hamming it up with a gruff Russian accent for the semi-insane world-famous dog handler who plays an instrumental role in Luthor’s transformation. My son has asked me several times this week to speak to him in Dmitri’s voice, and I am happy to oblige. I have been feeling a little irritable about having to read all of these books aloud–but then I saw a review on Amazon by a mom who has read them all AT LEAST THREE TIMES aloud to her son, and that helped me gain perspective. Korman’s writing is always fine, but the plots… the plots are killing me.

something new

Lucy Knisley’s new graphic novel memoir, Something New, blends the story of her own engagement and wedding planning with a pointed but often humorous analysis and critique of wedding culture.  I liked this book very much–though perhaps not quite so much as her other graphic novel memoirs. Something New was a bit longer than it needed to be; there are some repetitions and retreading over the same insights that could have been cut or tightened. And the wedding industry itself is a fairly easy targe: most readers will not be surprised by Knisley’s critiques, because we’ve all thought those same things. Still, a thoroughly enjoyable book and a must-read for Knisley fans.


I couldn’t put Melissa Fay Greene’s The Underdogs: Children, Dogs, and the Power of Unconditional Love down: I read it in just a day, which is almost unheard of for me. I had some issues with the editing; there are long tangents about dog breeding, breed histories, and dog heroics that–for me–weren’t always germane to the book’s purpose. But the stories of the children and their dogs that are at the core of the book are so incredibly absorbing, I could forgive it almost anything.

The Underdogs is about a service dog organization that trains dogs for children with special needs, including autism, fetal alcohol syndrome, physical disabilities, and attachment disorder. The dogs are hand-selected for each family and trained to provide the specific support that family needs. Families with “elopers” (generally kids diagnosed with autism who run) get tracking dogs. Families with children who rage (from autism or complex developmental trauma) get dogs who have been trained to place their heads on a child’s lap during a “tantrum” to provide pressure and distraction. The dogs can sense the chemical change in the child leading up to the rage and sometimes intervene to keep it from happening in the first place. Children whose worlds have been made small by physical disability suddenly find their worlds growing much larger as they go outside with their dogs and find themselves approached by other kids and adults who want to know more about their service dog. I was especially interested in the ways that these dogs can benefit children who have experienced complex developmental trauma and attachment disorder. Parents who have never had a full night of sleep can suddenly sleep through the night because their child can now sleep, thanks to the presence of the dog. Heartwarming, uplifting, and just plain fascinating, this book sent me all over the Internet learning more about the 4 Paws service dog organization that’s profiled here as well as following other little fascinating threads (prison programs where prisoners get to keep cats!).


20 responses to “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 6/6/16”

    • I’ve never done the 48 Hr Book Challenge. My home life is often unpredictable, so I usually need quite a bit of flexibility in the challenges I undertake! But it does sound intriguing! My son will be so glad there’s another Swindle title: he is already beginning to mourn the end of the series.

  1. I felt that I read Something New just when I needed to as all my friends and classmates are marching down the isle. I was so absorbed in the book that I didn’t notice the repetition and perhaps overdone critiques, but now that I read your review I definitely agree. I’ve only read this title and Relish but now I’m wondering if I need to read more of her work.

    • I think my favorite of her books is actually The Age of License, with Relish second and Displacement third. I think you’d like all of them, so definitely look for her others at the library.

  2. As the typical introvert at the party who tends to talk to the dog more than the people, I can’t resist a good dog book. And it sounds like I’m probably going to have to read The Underdogs.

    I liked your thoughts about Something New. I agree with you completely.

    • I definitely think you’d like The Underdogs. I’m amazed by everything these dogs can learn how to do and all the ways these families’ lives are improved by having a service dog for their children.

  3. When I am retired, I plan to binge read Lucy Knisley! I agree with Akilah before me. I love reading your comments on this series almost as much as I love that your son wants you to read them.

    • Binge reading Knisley seems like a marvelous idea! I’m planning to reread French Milk and Age of License this summer. I think it’s hilarious that my son is so enthralled by these stories. Anything that gets him reading!

  4. Maybe there should be a club “Moms who have read this Korman series aloud and how to cope!” 🙂 I am intrigued with The Underdogs title. Wow. Have been thinking more and more that our family should be getting a dog . . . Can’t believe I am writing that.

    • LOL, Carrie. I think you would find The Underdogs quite interesting. Most of the children have experienced some form of trauma, and I found a few insights that really got me thinking about the trauma work that I do. I already have a dog and besides I’m a cat person, but this book had me thinking I needed to go out and get a dog too!

  5. Two White Rabbits took me by surprise. I don’t think I knew what it was going to be about. Like you said, it provides a great timely conversation.

    • I knew what it was about going on, but it still surprised me. I really liked how …. vague everything was. Vague isn’t the best word, but you know what I mean. It’s a hard balance to be specific enough but also leave plenty to the reader’s imagination, and I thought this book nailed it.

  6. We’re training a puppy for a service dog organization right now, and sometimes her puppy-ness gets exasperting. I think I should read Underdogs to remind myself of why we’re doing this!

    • My son really wants a puppy when our 12 yr old dog dies, and I am not keen on puppies. So I feel for you! I am determined that Next Dog is going to have more training and be more of a pleasure as a pet as a result! But it’s hard work.

  7. When my boys read Korman they read fast enough that I never had to finish a read aloud — they’d pick the book up during the day and finish it off. Somehow I never complained. I enjoy him more when I read him to myself, because I can read fast enough not to let the plot bother me, which is harder when you read it chapter by chapter.

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