The Nearly Calamitous Taming of PZ: A Laboratory Dog's Search for Love

The Nearly Calamitous Taming of PZ: A Laboratory Dog's Search for Love


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The Nearly Calamitous Taming of PZ: A Laboratory Dog's Search for Love by Martha Ritter, Matt Ryan

A charming, classic adventure tale about the scary, crazy, and heart-thumpingly joyful plunge into connecting with others

A mute, nameless foxhound has spent her life in a laboratory cage. She has never seen the sun. When she gets rescued, Dottie, a diva ladybug with a heart as big as her hat, helps the dog understand the world and find a home with Olivia, a restless, solitary girl seeking comfort that her new pet cannot supply.

The isolated dog and the hesitant girl must face their fear of connecting. They learn to tame each other, let go, survive adventures, and find the courage to trust as they search for their place in the sun.

The Nearly Calamitous Taming of PZ-- lyrical and approachable, with resonant details--has both humor and heart. Although intended for children eight through twelve, its classic unfolding and off-beat characters tickle the fancy of adults as well. It is both an adventure story and a tale with many layers--about overcoming obstacles, mining experience for what matters, and doing what is necessary, though not always desirable, for friendship. Ultimately, it is about the joy of a hard-won connection.

The classic illustrations--with a contemporary edge--reflect this fresh, poignant, wise, and sometimes downright wacky book.

"Not since Kafka has an insect risen to this level of artistic genius."--Dottie

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780986381713
Publisher: Bradley Street Press
Publication date: 02/21/2015
Pages: 238
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile: 510L (what's this?)
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

Martha Ritter wrote her first book when she was in the sixth grade. It was a hundred page volume about the Republic of Indonesia, which the president of the United States requested she give to Indonesia's president. Reluctantly, she complied--and nearly caused an international incident.

Despite this complication, Ms. Ritter has been writing ever since. A journalist, speechwriter, and poet, she has served as a public affairs director for New York City. As a New York actor, Ms. Ritter has worked in theater and shared her sense of humor with a national audience in a number of classic TV commercials.

Ms. Ritter lives in Connecticut and New York City.

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The Nearly Calamitous Taming of PZ: A Laboratory Dog's Search for Love 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most enchanting children's books I have read in my career as a mom of five avid readers. My youngest children, who read this book on their own, could not put it down, and felt that the characters were absolutely real and authentic. Ms. Ritter is clearly a talented and insightful writer, and a woman who has a heart for both animals and people. I highly recommend this book, and hope to see more from this delightful author!
KWSkultetyLVT More than 1 year ago
Thanks to author Martha Ritter for gifting me this book for review! I had the pleasure of meeting her at BookCon 2015, and we had a wonderful conversation about many different things. We discussed a book called Nest by Esther Ehrlich that I had previously reviewed, and wondered if PZ could be comparable to it. Happily, I can state that yes, PZ is just as wonderful, touching, funny, poignant, and full of good feels as NEST. The plot is simple: lab dog ends its usefulness, goes to shelter, gets adopted, and learns about the world. It’s the telling of the story: sometimes from the dog’s point of view, sometimes from the adopter’s, that makes it so beautiful and a joy to read. Your emotions will range from tears to glee as PZ navigates through a world she’s never even known existed. Dotty, the ladybug that lives in her ear (just under the flap) encourages the former lab dog to be strong and learn how to be true to herself. There are moments where you can completely understand what the dog is thinking, as a situation arises and PZ reacts. I could see her trying to go through a doorway and finding it terrifying, so much so that I was able to transfer her fictional emotions to living canines I’ve encountered. (I’m a vet tech by trade and felt that reading this book gave me better tools to cope with scared dogs at my clinic.) The family that adopts PZ is a broken one. The father has passed away a year ago, and the 11 year old Olivia is getting skinny due to lack of appetite, and often breaks into tears. She and PZ circle each other warily at first, each doubting each other’s ability to be a good companion. There are disappointments and triumphs, and you can see how the girl and the dog truly help each other to grow and learn. Towards the end of the book, there is an event that affects the relationship between the shelter dog and grieving girl. I can’t say I saw it coming, but it is fitting and well written. The author has created suspense and it is easy for the reader to want a happy ending, to hope that Olivia and PZ can work together as a team. (No spoilers–you must read the book yourself!) I felt I would be able to read this story without tearing up or laughing out loud. I was wrong! There is pathos and humor that fits perfectly together, and the plot advances seamlessly. What a perfect way to convey so many ideas: love, trust, uncertainty, and growth. The illustrations complement the story, and add that other dimension of having a perfect picture of what the characters look like. The drawings are alternately moving and comic, without being too complicated. Want your own copy? Yes, you do. Everyone should read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
On the surface, this engaging little book is a warmhearted story of a foxhound, a lady bug, and a rescue family.  It is also much more- essentially the story of traumatic abuse and important steps of recovery.  It is an honest look at hard things, but framed in kindness and hope.  It’s a good book for parents and grandparents to read aloud to kids. It could spark great conversations about how we communicate and grow with each other after hurtful events.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
while a veracious reader, i rarely read fiction.  but my wife kept interrupting me so many times every night with passages she wanted to read me from this book that i finally gave up and read the book when she finished.  while i still prefer non-fiction, this book was a delight to read as the story was so touching and the writing was so well done.  i'm glad i didn't miss it.   the story reads like the very best from Verlyn Klinkenborg, which is likely why i enjoyed it so much.  ms. Ritter writes with the openness and emotional honesty of a great fiction writer, but with the direct, piercing poetry one would find in a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist - a rare combination that allows her to report on humanities despotic side while narrating a story about humanities more enlightened side.  the book makes you think, but in the most persuasive of ways - it motivates by inspiring us to find our better selves.  that it uses animals as the medium for this inspiration is a old story we as humans need to hear again - mostly because it works.   her writing style is able to open your heart through a touching story about a rescued lab dog and it's new owner, but with plenty of wit and humor thrown in balance the gravity of heavy situations.  as you are reminded of the value we as humans can find by connecting with the natural world, specifically with our animal cousins, one has to but reflect on how out-moded (and despotic) our notions of human exceptionalism can be, forever working to distance us rather than to connect.   much like Orwell's "Animal Farm", this book tells two stories at the same time.  to wit, our 10-year old read this book, and while she was completely entertained by the story, it inspired her to come talk to us about why the dog was caged in the first place, and to what purpose.   in short, i rarely read popular fiction because it more-often-than-not entertains without revealing anything about the human condition.  i loved this book because it does both, and does it so well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Martha's writing is very clever and witty. Young and old will enjoy this read. Please share it with your children, but keep it for yourself!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Reading children's books help us tackle difficult issues in aging and caregiving. In the pages of Martha's delightful book, you will find ways to embrace discomfort in change, learn the importance of always trying new ways to approach a challenge, and understand the patience one needs in not only taming a difficult rescue dog, but in giving care to a loved one. You will cry, laugh, and relish the time you spend reading about PZ and cast of helpers.
Librarylady3 More than 1 year ago
This is a delightful book. It is based on the true story of a frightened foxhound who spent her early years in a lab. The characters in the book are richly drawn and capture the reader from the first page. Dottie, the diva ladybug is a wonderful friend and guide as PZ learns about her new world. When PZ and Olivia find each other, they must face their fears and learn to trust. In doing so, they discover the joys of belonging to someone and their adventure begins. A wonderful book for anyone who loves dogs! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book... once i started it i could not put it down...the characters became real and  illustrations made the book come alive...cant wait for second book...i am a senior... 
EFD More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful read for adults and children showing the power of love and determination as both the girl and dog overcome fears and insecurities.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful story and so beautifully written.  Loved the dialogue.  An appropriate good for adults and children or better yet  to read aloud together.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I gave this book to my niece as a gift for her birthday. She absolutely loved it!  I asked her what was it about the book that she enjoyed.  She claimed that she had never read a story like it.  The characters were fun and interesting, and she was fascinated by the idea that a dog needed to learn how to love and be with people.  My niece wrote a book report on the story.  It was a great gift for a child that loves animals and enjoys a good laugh. I also want to say that while I read through the book to make sure it was appropriate to give a 9 year old, I found that the text was right in line with what pre-teens should be ready.  It's very difficult to find age-appropriate reading material.  The Taming of PZ is perfect! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is obvious that Ms. Ritter knows how to create characters (both animal and human) and that these characters remain in the reader's mind long after the book is finished. Look forward to another book soon.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful book.  Fresh, wise, and winning, it informs even as it entertains and touches the heart.  There's much to ponder about love and trust here, and many surprising twists to the story.  Not to mention the lively characters.  I wish I had a smart and sassy ladybug-mentor to guide me toward better things.  Bravo, Martha Ritter!
Abby6 More than 1 year ago
A charming, original book with strong character voices.  I don't know who loved it more, my 12-yr-old nephew, or me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a charming story about a wonderful dog that had never been touched by human hands, the caring friends that guided her, and the human she was meant to be with.  It’s a tale of needing, trusting, belonging, and saving each other.  I love that this story is based on the life of a real wonderful dog.  Elementary school kids and tweens will especially connect to the feelings expressed in this tender, honest saga. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A delightful world where divas rule and second chances abound. PZ and friends will get into your heart!