A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Welcome to Dog Beach is a light summer read about a girl who stumbles into a dog-sitting business with her friend. Remy is getting over the death of her dog and other changes beyond her control, ultimately learning, "It's comfortable when things stay the same, but comfortable can also mean boring, and different can also mean exciting." She's a sweet, responsible character who apologizes when she has offended a friend, and also confesses to a dog owner after a disaster at a local restaurant. Remy and Micayla are 11-year-old girls who both have crushes on different boys during the summer. Micayla goes for ice cream with the boy she likes, but Remy decides not to say anything to the boy she likes because she is enjoying their friendship as it is. Parents could use this book as an entry point to talk about changes, and how to have an open mind about the ones going on in life -- and inside.
What's the story?
Remy loves spending time with her two best friends every summer on idyllic Seagate Island, and doesn't want anything to change. But the 11 year old doesn't have much choice: her beloved dog has died, Micayla is acting distant, and Bennett is befriending a new boy (and sometimes acting like a jerk when he is with him). As she and her two friends stumble into a rapidly expanding dog-watching business, she is excited to spend time with dogs -- but must learn to roll with even more changes in her social world, including some pretty new weird feelings toward Bennett.
Is it any good?
WELCOME TO DOG BEACH is a cute, pretty straightforward book about a smart tween learning to deal with change, including changing feelings as a friend becomes a first crush. The beach setting makes for a sweet and well-drawn backdrop, and the characters have realistic and age-appropriate struggles, such as a pet's death, moving, and a best bud who acts differently around a new friend.
Readers may be somewhat disappointed that, while the dog-sitting business is a part of the book, the dogs themselves only occasionally becomes more than a background for other social interactions or soul searching. Also, the author sort of hammers home the theme of the book -- "It's comfortable when things stay the same, but comfortable can also mean boring, and different can also mean exciting. It's all in the way you look at it" -- which readers may grow tired of. In the end, this book makes for a good but not groundbreaking read.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about change. Remy is really resistant to anything changing about her summer. What do you think about her attitude?
She later decides, "It's comfortable when things stay the same, but comfortable can also mean boring, and different can also mean exciting. It's all in the way you look at it." Do you agree with her?
What do you think of Remy's dog-sitting business? Is that something you would want to do? What other summer jobs are available to kids your age?
- Author: Lisa Greenwald
- Genre: Friendship
- Topics: Cats, dogs, and mice, Friendship, Great girl role models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Amulet Books
- Publication date: April 15, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 14
- Number of pages: 272
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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