A Short Tale About a Long Dog: Here's Hank, Book 2

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
A Short Tale About a Long Dog: Here's Hank, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Likable hero shows he's responsible enough to have a pet.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Hank's creative approach to a routine school assignment may inspire kids to approach schoolwork with a fresh perspective.

 

Positive Messages

Responsibility and accountability are the themes here, and they're reinforced in the story lines about caring for a pet, being engaged at school, holding people accountable for their behavior, and apologizing for mistakes.

 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Hank admits to being unprepared for a book report and comes up with a creative solution that plays to his strengths. His teacher is flexible enough to appreciate his hard work. Hank's father is sometimes hard on him, but he apologizes for wrongly assuming Hank was irresponsible. Emily is an upstander when she reports Nick to the adults, and Nick's father holds him accountable for his actions. Hank is a thoughtful and responsible pet owner: He helps clean up the mess when Cheerio pees on the carpet and comforts his pet at night.

Violence & Scariness
Language

Hank describes a bully as a "jerk." 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Here's Hank: A Short Tale About a Long Dog, the second book in the Here's Hank series, is especially friendly to children who struggle with reading: It centers on a child with dyslexia and is presented in a typeface intended to be especially easy to read. The bonding between a boy and his dog is sweet, and there are good messages about responsibility and fairness.

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What's the story?

Second-grader Hank Zipzer wants a pet. His sister, Emily, has an iguana, and he wants a dog. He hammers out a deal with his parents: He can get a dog if he brings up his grades. Hank works hard but does only marginally better on a spelling test, and then he finds himself unprepared to present a report. His creative solution -- a performance piece -- earns him an A and gets him his dog, Cheerio. Hank's father remains unconvinced, especially after Hank neglects to protect his carpet from the not-yet-housebroken dog. When the class bully lets Cheerio off the leash, Hank is held responsible. His dad says Cheerio needs to go back to the animal shelter, but Emily stands up for him and ensures justice is done.

Is it any good?

If anything can be said about sympathetic protagonist Hank Zipzer, it's that his friends are terrific role models, willing to help him out when he's in a jam. Hank's poor grades are still causing friction with his dad in A SHORT TALE ABOUT A LONG DOG. The persevering second-grader earns the right to bring home a dog, but he still doesn't get the credit he deserves from his father. Hank stumbles a bit along the way, but he always does the hard work of making things right.

The class bully remains an ugly stereotype in this second book in the series -- Nick is presented as a large kid, and his heftiness is repeatedly emphasized. Emily's boldness in bringing Nick's behavior to his father's attention could be a springboard for talking about how bystanders can be upstanders

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the difference between reporting and tattling. What would you do if you were in Hank's or Emily's shoes and knew it was Nick's fault that Cheerio was off his leash?

  • If you read the first book in the Here's Hank series, Bookmarks Are People Too!, how does this one compare? Can you relate to the things Hank goes through? 

  • Would your teacher understand if you presented a report the way Hank does?

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