Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Aggie the Brave

I'm a sucker for a good dog story, and Aggie the Brave fits the bill. Told in first person by Ben, Aggie's young owner, this beginning reader has Aggie at the vet's to be spayed. Ben doesn't know what to expect and is full of questions for the vet. The last answer is a shocker. Aggie will have to stay overnight to recover from her operation.

How Ben deals with waiting (both for Aggie to come home and for her to make a full recovery) takes up the bulk of the book. First Ben has the long day of the operation to get through. Then, when he and his mother go to pick up Aggie, Ben is surprised to find that the little beagle isn't her usual energetic self. What's more she looks different. She has "a big lamp shade" around her neck to prevent her from getting at her stitches. Back home Aggie seems embarrassed by her new headgear (as any pet owner can attest; cats and dogs alike hate the blasted things), and Ben comes up with an ingenious solution. He decorates the cone so that it resembles a lion's mane. Her self-respect intact again, Aggie the lion-dog gradually gets better. Soon she and Ben are at the vet's to have her stitches removed--and her mane. Aggie is her old self, and Ben, along with this reader, rejoice.

Number three in a series by Lori Ries, Aggie the Brave does an excellent job of conveying the fears and concerns of a young pet owner. It also shows beginning readers what to expect if their pet has to undergo a similar operation. The story is divided into three chapters with simple, easy-to-read sentences. The illustrations by Frank W. Dormer of Socksquatch fame are a delight. The flat, cartoony line drawings add telling information to the text. It was good to see the vet portrayed as an older woman. And there's a wonderful spread of the vet's waiting room showing pet owners big and small, their faces full of concern for the animals on their laps. I especially liked the girl clutching a goldfish bowl.

Aggie the Brave
by Lori Ries
illustrations by Frank W. Dormer
Charlesbridge, 48 pages
Published: 2010  


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