Boys Are Dogs
Bloomsbury, Sep 2008, $15.99
Annabelle comes home from a summer at a sleep-away camp to live in a new home with her single mom and her mother’s new live-in nerdy but nice boyfriend. She is to start sixth grade so is old enough to understand when she is being bribed. They give her a puppy in exchange for her accepting the new arrangement.
Annabelle adores her puppy, but school is a war zone as this is the first time boys (yucky) are in her classes. They are selfish, thieves and rude whether it is the kid behind her who is practicing for a football career with her chair; her lab partners who share nothing, or stealing her homework. In many ways without the cuteness they remind her of her puppy before the training. Annabelle begins to teach the boys how to behave with her using the puppy manual.
The fun in this wonderful tweener tale is the behavior of middle school boys as seen through the myopic lens of the suffering heroine who is just starting to comprehend the Girls on Venus and the Boys on Mars make that Neptune concept. Applying a dog behavior manual as a modification tool is fun as Annabelle learns how to get along with the gender who makes Larry of the Three Stooges look like an Einstein.