Puppy Power


Gang way for the Princess. Fran knows she's best at everything, so who cares if nobody wants to play with her? She has her rowdy puppy. But when Fran gets the prize role of Princess in the school play, she'll have to shape up or ship out-and so will Hercules! Will Fran be able to keep Hercules and the leading role?
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Gang way for the Princess. Fran knows she's best at everything, so who cares if nobody wants to play with her? She has her rowdy puppy. But when Fran gets the prize role of Princess in the school play, she'll have to shape up or ship out-and so will Hercules! Will Fran be able to keep Hercules and the leading role?
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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
AGERANGE: Ages 7 to 9.

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.

School Library Journal

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

Kirkus Reviews
Impetuous third-grader Fran wins a prime spot in the class play and learns to control herself, thanks to puppy school. Fran really wants to be the princess in the play but her behavior is anything but royal: She barrels through groups of little kids ("squirts") to get to the tetherball pole first, collects roadkill to sneak into a schoolmate's backpack and grabs the wrist of her kindergarten reading buddy. At home, her big puppy Hercules is having the same self-control problems, and, with Fran's mother expecting a baby, it's clear that Hercules needs to shape up. Or else. It's hard to say who learns more at puppy kindergarten, Hercules or Fran, but they both progress, and Fran gets to show what a sweet princess she really can be. Though the resolution is too tidy, the familiar situation will resonate with the early elementary set. One cavil: The large typeface, coupled with Bjorkman's expressive, somewhat exaggerated, black-and-white drawings, would be much more accessible to new readers if the design allowed for more white space between lines and at the margins. (notes on puppy-training) (Fiction. 7-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823422104
  • Publisher: Holiday House, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/15/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 602,320
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

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. Visit her at judycox.net.

Steve Björkman has illustrated more than seventy books for children. He also wrote and illustrated Supersnouts!, a "supremely silly" tale which School Library Journal predicted would "tickle children's funny bones." He lives in California.
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