A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Occasional bits of information on a wide range of topics, like what people in China call their country, a couple of word origins, what kind of fish a dogfish is.
Real friendship means sharing not just good things, but also bad things openly and honestly; sharing bad things maybe even brings you closer. Don't listen to anyone who tries to tell you what a family is or isn't; listen to your own heart. It's OK if even the very best of friends sometimes get annoyed with each other, or sometimes want to do different things; real friendships are strong enough for that.
Positive Role Models
Bett, who's African American, is brave, curious, makes things she wants happen in her life. She sees the world in a unique way, figures things out for herself. Although her motives are good, she breaks rules, puts herself in dangerous situations but learns from consequences. Avery, who's white, has a more cautious, academic way of learning and looking at the world. She has anxiety issues, is afraid of a lot of things, but very bravely tries things out that are scary, and ultimately learns she's capable of more than she thought. Both girls are only children of single gay dads; adults in their lives are loving, caring, supportive.
Violence & Scariness
A serious boating accident happens when tweens ignore safety rules. Blood in the water is mentioned. Consequences are serious and life changing, but there's a positive resolution. Daughter of same-sex couple briefly mentions past verbal harassment.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
One character was born to two dads by a surrogate; it's mentioned but not explained that she's the biological daughter of one of her dads. Some issues about surrogacy and legal issues mentioned. A first period is described as scary. Brief speculation about a same-sex relationship. A same-sex romance between two adults is a prominent plot element without mentioning anything specifically sexual about the relationship.
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Products & Purchases
A few tech and other random products mentioned.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that To Night Owl From Dogfish, by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer, is a sweet tale of two girls who become best friends online. It'll appeal to reluctant readers, thanks to the short, breezy way the story is told by email and letter exchanges. Discussing the way the main characters start exchanging emails would provide an opportunity to talk to your kids about online communication with strangers. The two 12-year-old main characters are good role models in different ways. Bett is smart and proactive, and she and her family provide positive representations of African Americans. Avery's a good model for careful consideration and overcoming fears and dealing with anxiety. A same-sex romance between adults is a major plot element, but nothing specifically sexual is mentioned. Giving up custody of a child is an important part of the story. A boating accident mentions blood in the water and creates tension and suspense, but there's a safe resolution. A first period is described as scary. There are lots of positive messages about friendship and family, and seeing each other through good times and bad.
Is It Any Good?
Veteran authors Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer have teamed up to create a sweet, funny, and touching story of tween friendship and the ties that bind. To Night Owl From Dogfish is told exclusively through email exchanges and letters, unfolding the story from interesting points of view. The light, breezy format also adds a lot of appeal for reluctant readers.
Tweens will easily relate to the authentic, distinct voices of Avery and Bett as they explore what family and friendship mean through their dads' romance, and reunite with long-lost and distant loved ones. The plot is well constructed to keep the pages turning. Be sure to have a tissue handy for Avery and Bett's wedding toast.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.