Guinea Dog - Patrick Jennings

This review was originally written for GeekDad.

"It's a very weird book for me. And I like it because it's hilarious. It's about this boy who really wants a dog, but he gets a guinea pig who acts totally like a dog. That's why it's called Guinea Dog." There you have it, straight from Ridley's mouth. When I asked if she thought other kids would like this book, she said, "Yes, very much!"

A little more detail for you in case that's not enough: Rufus is in fifth grade, and he really wants a dog. But his dad (who, much to my wife's amusement, is a lot like me) has an entire list of reasons why Rufus will never have a dog. His dad is a bit uptight, works from home, and doesn't want to get stuck with a smelly, messy, slobbery pet that he has to feed and clean up after. So Rufus' mom has a brilliant idea: she gets him a guinea pig instead. But Fido (as Rufus names her) turns out to be a rather odd guinea pig—she responds to commands, plays fetch, and pretty much thinks she's a dog. Rufus spends most of the book trying to hide the fact that he has this guinea pig (she stows away in his backpack to school) but eventually starts to realize how cool she is.

That's the basic outline of Guinea Dog by Patrick Jennings. I received an advance copy which I read to Ridley. She really loved it and frequently told other people about it during her spring break. The book is targeted at ages 8 to 12, so there were some things my daughter didn't quite get (particularly some fifth-grade-boy humor), but I think it'd be a pretty funny book for older kids to read on their own. I would point out that it is more of a boy book (Rufus is pretty weirded out by girls) so I don't know that it's necessarily something that all girls would enjoy. But for any kid who has really wanted a pet, this is a pretty fun, silly story about not getting what you expect. I didn't think the writing was brilliant, but it made me and my daughter laugh quite a bit. My wife overheard bits about the dad and smirked about the similarities: obsessed with recycling, doesn't want a dog, makes good use of the Stony Stare when necessary. And I had to admit, the dad was a bit ridiculous and reminded me of myself in some ways.

For more about the author, visit Patrick Jennings' website. Jennings has written a bunch of other kids' books, many of which are about animals, and he has a pretty wacky sense of humor.

Wired: A very funny book for young readers about really wanting a pet; would be particularly great for fifth-grade boys.

Tired: Your kids might want a guinea pig after reading this book; and then be disappointed that theirs doesn't act like a dog.

Fed to jonathan's brain | March 31, 2010 | Comments (0)


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