The premise of Margolis's (Fix) effervescent story-a girl uses the techniques from a dog-training manual on boys-has been seen before (e.g., Sandra Dee in If a Man Answers), but rarely has it been so well grounded and developed. Right before the start of sixth grade, Annabelle returns from sleepaway camp to move into the house that her single mother and her mother's sensitive if geeky boyfriend have just set up. Their surprise gift of a puppy, Annabelle realizes, is their attempt to "bribe" her into liking the new arrangements, but she loves the puppy anyway. School, on the other hand, is a battleground, especially because it's Annabelle's first time going coed. Margolis gets the details of middle-school boy behavior just right: the boy sitting behind Annabelle torments her with endless kicking; her two lab partners hog the equipment; others play keep-away with her homework. When Annabelle does connect the dots between puppy training and communicating with boys, her breakthroughs come across as genuine. The story lines-melded household, moving, boys as dogs-coalesce naturally, giving girl readers a thoughtful story along with, just possibly, some substantive boy advice. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Boys Are Dogs (Annabelle Unleashed Series #1)by Leslie Margolis
The book that inspired the Disney Channel movie Zapped, starring Zendaya!
When Annabelle returns from summer camp, her life is totally different. She's moving to a new house with her mom's new boyfriend, and that means starting sixth grade at a brand-new school. Birchwood Middle School is very different from her old/i>/b>/b>/b>/i>
The book that inspired the Disney Channel movie Zapped, starring Zendaya!
When Annabelle returns from summer camp, her life is totally different. She's moving to a new house with her mom's new boyfriend, and that means starting sixth grade at a brand-new school. Birchwood Middle School is very different from her old all-girls elementary-the boys practically run wild in the hallways. And at home, Annabelle's new puppy is taking over the house and chewing on her clothes. But the puppy came with a training manual, so Annabelle might be able to get one thing under control. Unless . . . can you train a boy the way you train a dog?
Being the new kid in school is often hard enough, but Annabelle finds that dealing with the idiosyncrasies of sixth-grade boys is truly daunting. She misses her friends and doesn't know how she feels about her mother's live-in boyfriend, Ted. Then her mother and Ted surprise her with a puppy and a dog-training manual that proves to be a partial answer to some of her school dilemmas. Annabelle discovers that strategies in the manual can be transferred and tweaked to solve some of the boy issues at school. Using a mixture of confidence, ingenuity, and some excellent Swiss chocolates, she begins to change some difficult situations and behaviors for the better. This clever and humorous premise is deftly handled to create a believable and enjoyable tale with a likable and resourceful heroine whose trials, tribulations, and triumphs will have others wanting a training manual of their own.-Carol Schene, formerly at Taunton Public Schools, MA
Read an Excerpt
Boys Are Dogs
By Leslie Margolis
BLOOMSBURY CHILDREN'S BOOKS
Copyright © 2008
All right reserved.
Chapter One a slobbery surprise
Summer was officially over. There would be no more swimming, snorkeling, or bodysurfing in the cool blue waves. No more relay races, and no more circling the campfire to sing songs and toast marshmallows.
For eight whole weeks, the world of school and homework and chores had been replaced with nonstop fun. Sometimes at camp, I smiled so much that by the end of the day my face hurt. But I wasn't smiling now. Our ferryboat from Catalina Island had landed, the parking lot was already crowded with parents, and I just spotted my mom.
"I can't believe this is it," Mia said as we filed off the boat. Her voice sounded strained and her eyes filled with tears. Mia cried last summer when we were only saying good-bye to camp, not good-bye for real.
I'm the one who should have been crying. While I was away at camp, my mom moved in with her boyfriend, Ted. That meant I moved, too.
Sophia huffed out a small breath. "Stop crying," she said. "We'll still see Annabelle next Saturday."
Sometimes Sophia is a little bossy, but Mia and I were used to it. The three of us had been best friends since kindergarten.
I hugged Sophia and said, "I'll miss you."
"Call me when you get there."
"Sure thing," I promised, since it's never a good idea to argue with Sophia.
"As soon as you walk inside."
Next, I hugged Mia, who smelled like bug spray. "Call me right after," she said. "And good luck with Dweeble."
Dweeble is my secret name for Ted. It's only fitting, since his last name is Weeble, and he's the dweebiest guy I know. Example? The first time I met Ted he had a giant spaghetti sauce stain on his shirt. He and my mom had gone out for Italian food, and I guess he spilled. So basically, my mom just moved in with a man who needs to eat with a bib.
They've been together for over a year, but at least they're not getting married-yet. They want to try living together first, to see how it goes. I can tell them right now that it's not going well. Not for me, anyway.
"Bye!" my friends called.
"See you later." I waved back, but it didn't seem right. I said the same thing last summer, when we all knew we'd see each other less than a week later in school. But those days were over now.
When I reached my mom, she bent down and squeezed me tight. "Welcome home, Annabelle."
Her curly blond hair smelled like coconut shampoo. I didn't let go right away because despite it all, I'd missed her, too.
Still, we didn't linger in the parking lot. Mom wanted to get home and I didn't want to start crying. So I said fast good-byes to my counselor, Jane, and to the rest of the girls from my cabin. Then we found my two overstuffed duffel bags and hauled them over to Mom's car.
"Wait until you see the new house. You'll love it," Mom said as we loaded my things into the trunk.
I watched Mia and Sophia head over to Mia's dad's car, at the other end of the parking lot. Their matching dark braids reminded me of the thick rope we used to tie the kayaks to the camp dock.
My hair is blond and straight and too thin to hold a braid. It hardly stays in a ponytail.
"Did you hear me?" asked my mom.
I nodded. "I already saw the new house." Did she forget that she and Ted took me there the week before I left for camp?
"Yes, but now all of our stuff is in it, so it looks even better."
"Mine and your stuff? Or yours and Ted's?"
"All of our stuff," she replied, like it was that simple. "Although there's still plenty of unpacking to do."
"Lucky me," I mumbled.
Mom pretended like she didn't hear. She keeps trying to convince me that the move isn't a big deal. And for her, it's not. The new house is in Westlake, almost thirty miles away from our old apartment. She still gets to have her same job, teaching tenth grade English at North Hollywood High School. Plus, she can drive anywhere she wants. I'm only eleven, and my bicycle is so rusty it squeaks whenever I pedal.
I slouched down in my seat and looked out the window.
"Are those new shorts?" my mom asked.
I fingered the frayed edge of the cutoffs. "Mia let me borrow them because all my stuff was dirty."
"That was nice of her."
I shrugged. "She probably just felt sorry for me."
No comment from my mom, not that I was surprised.
We had a fight about cutoffs before I left for camp. I'm not allowed to make my jeans into shorts. Mom says it's a waste of fabric. If I want shorts, she'll buy me shorts. But if she's going to spend money on jeans, they have to stay jeans.
Now she sighed and said, "Oh, Annabelle. Try and have a good attitude about this. Think of it as a big adventure. You get to go to a new school."
"Where I know no one."
"And we get to live in a house. That's much better than an apartment. Wait until you see the tomato plants I put in the backyard. Soon we'll have flesh vegetables growing in our very own garden. Can you believe it?"
"Tomatoes are a fruit."
I leaned forward and turned on the radio, but Mom kept talking.
"I know you liked St. Catherine's, but this really is for the best."
When I didn't say anything, Mom finally got the hint and stopped talking.
An hour later, we were in the new neighborhood. Too soon, we turned onto Clemson Court, our new street. It's called a cul-de-sac, which is a fancy word for dead end. All the houses around here looked the same. Each had two stories, a redbrick chimney attached to one side, and a square patch of grass out front. There were no stores or gas stations or cool places to walk to-just house after house after identical house.
"Get ready for a surprise," my mom said as we got closer.
Her voice was singsongy, like she had a secret she couldn't wait to tell me. But my mom can't keep secrets, and I'm never surprised. Not on my birthday or even at Christmas. I always know what I'm getting. All I had to do was wait and she'd spill the beans.
Of course, today I didn't even have to wait. I'd already figured out what she got me-a basketball hoop. Two houses on our new street already had hoops above their garages. When I'd first noticed, I asked my mom if I could get one, too. She'd said, "We'll see," in this happy way that made me think she definitely planned on buying me one.
Even though I had to leave my friends behind, a small part of me-maybe the size of my pinky toe-was excited about having my own driveway where I could shoot hoops. We didn't have our own driveway at the old apartment, just a parking space in a dark underground lot. Sometimes I took my ball to the park, but usually the courts there were filled with guys from the high school-the kind of guys who liked to swear and spit. No way would I ever ask them to share a court.
But when we pulled up to the house, I didn't see a hoop. I figured it must be inside. "Can I draw a half court on the driveway if I use erasable chalk?" I asked. Our new driveway was covered in blacktop, the perfect surface for dribbling. If only it didn't slope so much.
Mom's eyebrows shot up. "Why would you need a half court?" she asked.
"Come on. I know you got me a basketball hoop."
Rather than answer me, she just sighed a little.
And then I knew that I wasn't getting a basketball hoop. That there was some other surprise waiting for me, and for once, my mom wasn't going to give it up.
As we walked inside, my stomach felt fluttery, like it did whenever I got nervous before some big test.
I followed Mom into the kitchen, where we found Dweeble peeling potatoes over the sink. His beard was thicker than how I remembered it, and the bright light from above bounced off his bald head in a way that wasn't exactly attractive.
I didn't want to hug him or anything. It was weird enough seeing him in what was supposed to be our kitchen. Yellow tile covered the floors and countertops, and I know for a fact that my mother can't stand the color yellow. She thinks it's the most stress-inducing color of the rainbow. When I told her I didn't believe colors could induce stress, she insisted there was scientific research to back it up, and literature, too. But I'll bet she never complained to Dweeble about the color.
"Annabelle. Welcome back. How was camp?" Dweeble's voice seemed too big for the room. He's over six feet tall. I'm short for my age, anyway, but next to Dweeble, I feel extra shrimpy. Luckily, he just stood there, and didn't move in for a hug.
"It was fun," I replied, trying-and failing-to keep from smiling. Camp was way better than just fun, but I didn't feel like gushing.
"We missed you around here."
I wasn't going to lie and say I missed him too, so I stayed quiet. Not bothered by the silence, Dweeble went right on talking. "Wait until you try my famous mashed potatoes. They'll knock your socks off."
"I'm not wearing socks," I told him, pointing to my pale blue flip-flops.
"Well, you're lucky," he replied.
Before I could ask him how any potato could be famous, I heard a strange yelping sound. It seemed to be coming from the back of the house.
"What's that noise?" I asked.
Dweeble turned to my mom and asked, "You didn't tell her, did you?"
"I told you I wasn't going to," she said.
"Yes, but I know how you are about keeping secrets," he teased.
So he knew, too. I didn't like that.
The sliding glass door rattled in its frame, and the noise grew louder. It sounded like something outside was trying to get in. "What's going on?" I asked.
"I'll be right back." Dweeble dropped a soon-to-be-famous potato into a bowl and then walked to the back of the house. A second later I heard the door open and then, very clearly, a bark, which made no sense at all.
Neither did what happened next: a gigantic blur of fur charged at me and jumped up, planting two scruffy paws in the softest part of my stomach. Something wet hit my chin. OOF!
I stumbled and fell on the floor.
The kitchen tile was cold and hard but I barely noticed. Not with this crazy, hyper dog in my lap. Its little pink mouth panted warm, stinky animal breath as it licked my face.
"Get it off!" I said, laughing and holding my hands up to protect my face.
Every time I tried to scramble out of the way the dog moved, too. It just wouldn't leave me alone. Its tongue felt wet and its fur tickled my neck. I couldn't help but giggle.
Dweeble chuckled his dweeby chuckle.
Silly, happy tears streamed down Mom's face. "Surprise!" she cried.
"You got me an attack dog?" I asked, once I finally managed to climb to my feet.
The dog yapped like he was trying to tell me something.
"He's not an attack dog," Mom said. "He's just a puppy. Isn't he adorable?"
The puppy whipped his tail so hard, his whole backside wiggled. His fur was long and shaggy, and mostly black, with some small brown and white patches scattered around. He looked sort of like a tiny, furry cow, but with backward colors.
Mom jumped up and down and clapped little baby claps. "You should have seen your face. It was so hard to keep it a secret. I was dying to tell you the whole way home. But I'm so glad I didn't."
I looked from the dog to my mom.
"You mean we get to keep him?" I asked, crouching down to pet him.
"Of course," she said. "You've been so great about the move. Ted and I decided that this would be a nice thing to do."
The two of them beamed down at me, arm in arm.
She and Ted decided? I didn't like the sound of that.
And what was my mom thinking? We move in with her dweeby boyfriend, and all I get is a dog? Like that's supposed to make up for everything?
"He's part border collie and part Lab, we think," said my mom.
"He might have some bulldog in him, as well," Dweeble added. "Look at how large his paws are. That means he's going to be really big."
They both kept talking to fill up the silence, until finally my mom asked, "So what do you think?"
What did I think? I did the math in my head: Mom got a big boyfriend. They moved into this big house, and then found me a big dog. This all stunk of one thing: A Big Bribe.
I stood up. The puppy stared at me with large, honey-colored eyes.
More than anything, I wanted to keep on petting his soft fur, but I resisted. In fact, I tried to not even look at him.
"So?" asked my mom.
I crossed my arms over my chest and did my best to frown. "So does this mean I'm not getting a basketball hoop?"
"Oh, honey," said Mom, which I guess meant no.
"This little guy is much better than a basketball hoop," Dweeble tried.
"And you've always wanted a dog," Mom reminded me.
"I have?" I asked.
"Of course. You begged me for one when you were six. Right after your grandmother took you to see 101 Dalmatians. Remember?" She sounded worried.
"Kind of," I said, even though I really did remember. "I'll bet every kid wants a dog after she sees 101 Dalmatians. After I saw Babe I wanted a pig."
"I've always wanted to get you a dog, Annabelle. You know that. It's just that the old apartment was too small, and now we have this big, fenced-in yard."
Exactly. That big yard totally meshed with my Big Bribe theory.
"We were going to take you to pick one out yourself," said Dweeble. "But when we visited the shelter two days ago your mother fell in love with this guy."
"I just couldn't leave without him. And I wanted to surprise you, too," Mom added.
Not only was I surprised ... I was also surprised about being surprised. And guess what? It turns out I don't like surprises. Not even cute, fluffy ones.
"You can name him," said Dweeble. "We've been calling him Stripe, but that's just temporary."
"Stripe?" I asked.
"Because he has spots."
I said nothing. Dweeble's smile faded ever so slightly.
"It's supposed to be funny," he said.
If there were an award for the worst sense of humor ever, Dweeble would win first prize. I looked to my mom for help. She patted my shoulder. "You don't have to name him yet. Just think about it."
The dog sniffed at the floor.
Mom crouched down and scratched him behind his ears. "You have to admit he is adorable."
As I looked down at the cute, bouncy ball of fur, my heart went all melty. I didn't mean for it to happen. It's just, well, puppies have that effect on me. Still, I struggled to hold my ground. It wouldn't be fair, making it that easy for Mom and Dweeble. Yes, they got me a puppy with floppy ears, and a shiny black nose, and a bright pink tongue, and soft fur that I ached to stroke. But that didn't make everything okay. What about my friends? And school? What about my whole life?
Mom stood up. The puppy begged for more attention but I refused to give in. And he must have gotten the idea, because the next thing I knew, he turned around and trotted out of the room.
"Where's he going?" Dweeble asked.
"Don't know." I patted the pockets on my cutoffs. "He gave me a map but I must have misplaced it."
"Very funny," Mom said, as the three of us followed the puppy down the hall.
He moved fast, turning left into the den. We were right on his tail. Well, not literally on his tail, but really close.
Dweeble crouched down and patted his knees. "Come on, little guy. You don't want to stay in here. This room is a mess."
Only Dweeble would try to reason with a dog like he was a person.
Not that Stripe paid him any attention. I was starting to like this little puppy.
"We haven't unpacked in here, yet," my mom explained.
Stripe sniffed at a stack of boxes, then made his way over to a fancy-looking rug with a three-legged table on top. He sniffed the table and then tilted his nose up to sniff the large, leafy plant sitting on its edge.
"Careful!" cried Dweeble. I guess he was scared Stripe would knock over the table. But Stripe didn't. Dweeble did when he lunged forward to shoo Stripe out of the way.
As the table toppled the plant crashed to the floor. The clay pot split open and dirt spilled everywhere.
Startled by the noise, the puppy yelped and ran around in circles. Then he crouched down and peed.
"Not on the Persian rug!" Dweeble cried.
Like Stripe cared where the rug came from.
Mom cringed and covered her eyes.
I covered my mouth with both hands so they wouldn't see me laughing.
Stripe headed out of the room, leaving Dweeble and my mom with the mess. I ran after him, following him all the way to the sliding glass door at the back of the house.
He gazed out at the yard, then looked up at me. "You have opposable thumbs," he seemed to be telling me. "So what are you waiting for?"
Excerpted from Boys Are Dogs by Leslie Margolis Copyright © 2008 by Leslie Margolis. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
LESLIE MARGOLIS is the author of numerous books for young readers, including the Annabelle Unleashed books Boys Are Dogs, Girls Acting Catty, Everybody Bugs Out, and One Tough Chick, as well as the Maggie Brooklyn mystery series. The Disney Channel movie Zapped!, starring Zendaya was inspired by the first book in the Annabelle Unleashed series, Boys are Dogs.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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this book will keep you reading! especially if you are just going through elementary, middle or high school. this is a very cute book! i wish they had a 2nd :-) if you read this, please review :-) i want this book to get around, i L-O-V-E-D it!!
This book is interesting, but not in a bad way. I love Boys Are Dogs. In this book, a girl named Annabelle faces unusual challenges with her new Middle school, Birchwood. I love the author's detailed descriptions of her new town, school, and neighborhood. Annabelle thinks that Birchwood is totally different from her old all girls elementry school, St. Catherine's. This book is funny and realistic. I enjoyed the beginning when Annabelle described her Mother's new boyfriend, Ted. I thought it was funny when she called Ted "Dweeble", because his last name is Weeble. Annabelle also makes a neighborhood friend, Rachel. When Rachel's brother, Jackson, gets on Annabelle's nerves, things won't be dandy. With other boys like Tobias and Erik bothering her, Annabelle trains them like her dog. Will Annabelle like her new life, or will she be miserable forever? I would definitely recommend this book to a friend. ?
A very hilarious story of a girl who finds boys are almost exactley alike dogs
I think that sometimes that can be true. Sometimes not. Great book i suggest it to tweens (10-12) for this book.
I didn't read this book on NOOK, but it is really good. If you like ' stand up to the bully ' books, you will like this book:) ;) Happy reading!
It's one of my favorite books. It is awesome.
i loved this book i would recomend it to anyone from 4-6 graders amazing i cant wait to read rhe next one: )
I love this book & not all boys r dogs 1 of my best friends is a boy!
Great book for kids and audlts
I love this book very intresting and I was hooked right away. I hope you love it as much as me.
Totally helpful, funny,and encouraging to girls! Heads up, boys, because if you think girls are lame, boring sissies, your WRONG!!!!! Anyways, don't worry girls-I am a girl Cross my heart twelve times So you can trust me Reply to WOW if you want to chat- anytime! I am here day and night to talk
Zapped is based on Boys are Dogs.
If you are into fiction tales that could happen in everday life this is your book it is a great feel good book for a bad day :)
I love it necause it might give me some tips on my middle age school
Annabelle comes home from summer camp to a lot of new changes in her life. She's moving into a new house with her mom's new boyfriend.
They buy her a puppy in hopes that she will have a better adjustment.
The puppy appears to be a bouncy ball of fur, but he soon gets into everything! Annabelle certainly has her hands full! Luckily, she has a book on raising dogs that should help.
Going to a new school is another change in Annabelle's life. She had previously gone to an all-girls school, so for the first time she has boys in her classes. It only takes her a minute to realize that boys are dogs! One boy tells her to go into the wrong classroom, another kicks her chair in class, and her two lab partners either ignore her or make fun of her.
Annabelle's book on training dogs proves to be a bigger help than she originally plans. She can use the tips with Pepper and also with the boys at school! She's got to make them all realize that she is the boss and the dominant dog of them all!
This book was terrific! It was full of laughs and I enjoyed seeing what Annabelle planned to do next. She's a character who starts out unsure of herself but you really see her confidence grow in the book. This would be an enjoyable read for anyone, whether you are in junior high or just want to relive those memories!
Boys go to jupiter to get more stupider Girls go to colloge to get more knolege :) :-)
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I love this book because its totally true and is super funny! Love annabelle! Highly eecommend on tough chic and this book
It is true that boys are dogs
Luciec17 I love this book. I read the sereis over and over intill my eyes hurt. My favorite one is One Tuff Chick. In the first one boys are dogs, a girl named Annabelle moves from being with her friends Sophia and Mia at a all girls school, to public middle school. Her mothor gives her a dog, for being so brave at the move. Thankfully, the girl next door is exepting her as a knew friend. Still, Annabelle thinks that her mothor is bribiing her to try to like the knew school. She wont give in.
This girl named annabelle moves schools and she also moves houses. Her mom and her boyfreind get annabelle a new dog and it dosent behave well so she teaches it. But when she goes ti her new school she gets teased and trains boys that tease her like she does with her dog.
Lol i love it it is a great book