Flawed Dogs: The Shocking Raid on Westminster

Flawed Dogs: The Shocking Raid on Westminster

4.2 81
by Berkeley Breathed

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Pulitzer Prize-winning Berkeley Breathed's first illustrated novel!

Sam the Lion is actually a priceless dachshund, bred to be a show dog. More important, he is Heidy's best friend-and she needs one like never before. Living with her reclusive uncle is hard, but Sam has a way of making her feel soft and whole. Until the day Sam is framed by the jealous poodle

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Pulitzer Prize-winning Berkeley Breathed's first illustrated novel!

Sam the Lion is actually a priceless dachshund, bred to be a show dog. More important, he is Heidy's best friend-and she needs one like never before. Living with her reclusive uncle is hard, but Sam has a way of making her feel soft and whole. Until the day Sam is framed by the jealous poodle Cassius, and is cast out by Heidy's uncle, alone on the wild streets, where he is roughed up by a world he was not bred for. Sporting a soup ladle for a leg, Sam befriends other abandoned dogs and journeys all the way to the Westminster Dog Show, where his plan for revenge on Cassius takes an unexpected turn when he and Heidy spot each other after years of being apart.

Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times bestselling author Berkeley Breathed's first illustrated novel is a heartwarming and humorous ode to the unconditional and lasting love we and our pets share.

Editorial Reviews

John Schwartz
Breathed, through words and lush illustrations, tells a story that will charm many readers
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Bloom County cartoonist Breathed (Pete & Pickles) makes the move from picture books to middle-grade fiction and, from the harrowing opening scene at a dog fight, readers will be rapt. After spending eight years isolated at a boarding school in Minnesota, 14-year-old orphan Heidy McCloud is invited to live with her dejected uncle Hamish, greedy Mrs. Beaglehole and their evil poodle, Cassius, on the vacant McCloud Heavenly Acres dog ranch in Piddleton, Vt., “Home of the World's Most Beautiful Dogs.” En route, Heidy meets Sam, a Duüglitz dachshund worth $180,000, and a reciprocal, platonic love is born. However, Cassius resents the attention Sam receives and sets a trap resulting in the dachshund's imprisonment in a pound with “the seven most ridiculous dogs [Sam] had ever seen,” as well as Sam's suffering an awful injury. But the dog's determination to reunite with Heidy doesn't wane. Dramatically lit and featuring comically exaggerated characters (human and canine alike), Berkeley's b&w artwork augments the story's drama and humor. A moving tale about the beauty of imperfections and the capacity for love. Ages 8–12. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Summer Whiting
Sam the Lion is not a lion at all—at least not in the physical sense. He is beaten down and feels dejected. No matter that he is one of a kind and worth $180,000! His life has been nothing short of rough, and it is about to get even worse. When his soulmate, a human named Heidi, is sent to live with her uncle, she rescues Sam and the two became fast friends. Unfortunately for them, Cassius, the resident poodle, is jealous of Heidi's love for Sam. He makes it his goal to undermine the unknowing dachshund. After being framed for some pretty awful tricks, Sam is put up for adoption. Unable to accept the recent turn of events, he makes it his mission to prove to the world that he was set up. He begins his journey to find his beloved owner. This story follows this spirited pup through staggering capers and shenanigans. Breathed knows how to use just the right language to engage even the most reluctant readers. This book will warm the hearts of animal lovers and promises to engage readers to the very last line. Reviewer: Summer Whiting
VOYA - Jenna Yee
Flawed Dogs is written in first person with an easily understood but very fun and crazy plot that takes hold of the reader. As you read about Sam, you feel how he struggles with himself. The plot is not uncommon, but the story from a dog's point of view balances out the predictability. Teen readers who like animal stories will like this book. Reviewer: Jenna Yee, Teen Reviewer
VOYA - Cindy Faughnan
From the moment the show dog Sam the Lion meets Heidy, the fourteen-year-old orphaned niece of a rich man, the two are inseparable. They dance together in their first dog show and amaze the crowd. Cassius, the poodle that belongs to the caretaker, plots a way to get rid of Sam so he can have his rightful place as Heidy's favorite. When it looks as if Sam has attacked a baby, he is shot at by Heidy's uncle. During the next year he is taken by the sheriff to a holding cell for unwanted animals, caught in a trap where he loses his leg, and befriended by a man who uses him for pit fighting. Through it all, Sam is kept alive by his love for Heidy. Finally he decides to sneak into the Westminster dog show to have a showdown with Cassius in order to reunite with Heidy. The animals in this story talk to each other but communicate with the humans in their usual ways, through barks, tail wagging, and kisses. The story is told with humor. Names include Mrs. Beaglehole, Mrs. Nutbush, and St. Egregious School. Comments such as "whistles are to dogs what a pricked thumb is to a vampire" are scattered throughout. The author is a cartoonist known for the comic strip Bloom County and a picture book that inspired this work. The illustrations, both black-and-white and color, are detailed and add to the cartoonlike nature of the story. Although some characters are caricatures and the time spanned in the novel creates a few holes, readers will root for the spunky dachshund to the very end. Reviewer: Cindy Faughnan
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—This chapter book is a spin-off of Breathed's 2003 picture book of the same name (Little, Brown). Sam the dachshund was bred to be an award-winning show dog, right down to his priceless "Duüglitz tuft." But Sam has no interest in appearances; like all dogs, beautiful or "flawed," all he really wants is to belong to someone special, and to be loved. After a dramatic escape from his frightful new owner, he sneaks into a girl's luggage and soon wins her affections. But Cassius, a champion full-size poodle and denizen of Sam's new home, is not accustomed to being second in anyone's heart and is determined to get rid of him. What follows is a series of misadventures for Sam and a group of abandoned animals from the National Last-Ditch Dog Depository. Featuring some harrowing moments, this is not a story for the faint of heart, but readers will definitely be rooting for Sam and his comically imperfect band of followers. Black-and-white and full-color illustrations, done in the award-winning author's familiar style, are sprinkled throughout, adding depth to an already engaging and well-paced tale.—Jessica Marie, Renton Public Library, WA
Kirkus Reviews
Breathed's fans won't be surprised by the dark tone of this outlandish tale, but readers expecting a heartwarming pet story may be taken aback by the difficulties that face Sam, the canine hero. Luckily, smooth writing and humorous exaggeration make it relatively easy to get through the violence of a dog-fighting ring, the perfidy of an envious poodle and three long (mercifully undescribed) years in a research lab. Characterization of the humans is sketchy at best, but the various canine and feline players are an endearing mix of odd attributes and engaging personalities (except for the murderous poodle). Sam's clever plot to infiltrate the Westminster dog show combines the suspense of an over-the-top caper film with the slapstick of the Marx Brothers (Mrs. Nutbush bears a striking resemblance to Margaret Dumont). Clearly growing out of, but not a simple expansion of, the 2003 picture book of the same name, these pups' tale carries the same message of caring and concern and will likely worm its way into the hearts of readers able to persist through the problems and pain. (Fantasy. 10-14)

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Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
8.50(w) x 5.80(h) x 0.92(d)
920L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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