Puppy Powerby Judy Cox
When Fran lands the part of Princess Penelope in the school play, she's thrilled--until her teacher warns her that she will be kicked out if she doesn't improve her behavior. Even worse, her parents threaten to get rid of her puppy unless he shapes up. Will Fran be able to keep her puppy and the leading role?
Third-grader Fran and her puppy, Hercules, have a lot in common. Most importantly, both have a hard time controlling their impetuous behavior. Fran's teacher keeps telling Fran, "I'm at the end of my rope with you." Fran's pregnant mother tells Fran that they may not be able to keep Hercules because "I've had it with that dog. Either he gets trained or he's out of here." Hercules does learn to behave after Fran takes him to "puppy kindergarten" where he practices the crucial skills of "sit," "stay," and "heel." And Fran, who will lose the coveted part of Princess Penelope in the school play if she does not act more like a princess in the classroom and on the playground, realizes that "[i]f Hercules could change, so could she." However, Fran's behavior--unlike that of Hercules--goes beyond youthful exuberance to calculated, selfish meanness: she puts a roadkill dead toad in a classmate's backpack, injures a smaller child by shoving him at the water fountain, and cheats shamelessly at tetherball. It is hard for the reader to like Fran, who is indeed the "big bully" that the other children proclaim her to be. Still, the parallel between puppy training and Fran's own efforts at self control sends a hopeful (if overly optimistic) message that even deep-seated moral flaws are corrigible. Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D.
Gr 2-4- Third-grader Fran is so determined to be the boss of the playground that she cheats at tetherball, shoves to advance in line, and finds that no one wants to play with her at recess. She's a match for mean Jean in Alexis O'Neill's The Recess Queen (Scholastic, 2002) but, with above-average reading skills, Fran breaks the stereotype of a dumb bully. She brings home gold stars on the days she behaves, her parents gently and patiently coach her on impulse control, and her teacher is also more patient than one might expect. Readers may relate to rude behavior that occurs beyond the sight of school staff. More importantly, they may be inspired by Fran's determination to cultivate self-control in response to negative comments from peers and teachers as she strives to maintain her lead role in the class play. Readers will also enjoy the parallel plot of Fran and her father taking their Newfoundland puppy to obedience classes, and Fran's joy about the dog's progress. A light tone, clear writing, action, vivid descriptions, and realistic school and family scenarios earn this book a place on library shelves. Björkman's expressive black-and-white illustrations appear on many pages, sustaining the mood and giving young chapter-book readers a text break. Offer this story along with Elizabeth Starr Hill's Bird Boy (Farrar, 1999) and Carolyn Marsden's The Gold Threaded Dress (Candlewick, 2002) for a broad view of behavior.-Laura Scott, Farmington Community Library, MI
- Holiday House, Inc.
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Sales rank:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.50(d)
- Age Range:
- 7 - 9 Years
Meet the Author
Judy Cox is an elementary school teacher who has written many picture books and chapter books for children. Publishers Weekly praised “Cox’s rhythmic story” and the narrative’s “cheerful, buoyant tempo” for "My Family Plays Music", winner of the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award. She lives in Ontario, Oregon.
Steve Bjorkman has illustrated more than seventy books for children, including Supersnouts!, which he also wrote. He lives in Aliso Viejo, California.
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >