Gr 1-3-This story, lightly illustrated with simple line drawings, joins two others in the series about a dog and his human friends: I Was a Third Grade Science Project (1998) and I Was a Third Grade Spy (2001, both Holiday). Poor Arful gets no respect from the sassy chicken he must guard for his boy, Brian, during Christmas vacation. Not only must the pup resist eating Tallulah, but he must also endure her endless name-calling, e.g., "drool bucket" and "kibble breath." As a result of a science project by Brian, the talented canine can "talk like a person, but still think[s] like a dog." And he must keep it a secret from everyone but Brian and his two buddies, Josh and Dougie, which is no small task with pesky third-grade classmate Emily hovering around. Predictably, Tallulah escapes, causing all kinds of anguish, only to be found by Arful. The simple plot clips along with plenty of dialogue and minimal character development to a humorous resolution. Readers who have gone beyond beginning readers as well as younger listeners will welcome Auch's latest offering.-Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.