Dog Diaries: Secret Writings of the WOOF Society by Betsy Byars, Betsy Duffey, Laurie Myers
Each chapter in Dog Diaries is its own little story, sharing fictional dog experiences ranging from life in ancient Egypt to gold mining in Colorado. Unfortunately, it’s a little uneven. Some chapters are great (Disposal!!) and some are just meh, but I think kids will be less bothered by this than I was. Illustrations can be found throughout. This is a good choice for a beginning chapter book because the story format will make comprehension easier for many readers as they won’t need to sustain attention and understanding beyond a chapter. It’s even better as a read aloud, either in class or at home because then you can skip the chapters you don’t like.
Sex, Nudity, Dating – A dog nurses kittens. A dog loves another dog.
Profanity – None.
Death, Violence and Gore – Sort of surprisingly this book had some death and violence in it. I wasn’t quite sure why, because it doesn’t fit with the reading level. In particular, be careful with the story about Pompeii/Mt. Vesuvius. If you’re familiar with the event, you’ll probably guess it doesn’t end well, but essentially, the dog escapes the city while “bodies littered the streets.” The chapter on the Civil War isn’t pretty either, because it’s war, but the main character survives despite being injured and is brought home safely by his dog. Other violence includes a character thinking about robbing a stagecoach (he decides against it) and an encounter with an actual robber who carries a gun (shown in the illustrations). In the Egypt story there’s some snarling and the dog talks about going on hunts and going into battle. A squirrel is caught by a cat.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – None.
Frightening or Intense Things – See above.