Fenway and Hattie is such a fun book to read. This heartwarming story is told from the point of view of Fenway, an energetic Jack Russell terrier. Because we are experiencing the events of this book from a dog's perspective, we quickly learn that Fenway's family includes Food Lady, Fetch Man and his favorite short human, Hattie. When this family moves from a busy, noisy city neighborhood to the much quieter suburbs, Fenway has many stressful changes in his life. The house is bigger and the Wicked Floor in the Eating Place is too slippery. The Dog Park behind the house has squirrels instead of dogs in it. And Hattie is much more interested in climbing trees and playing with her new friend, Angel, than spending time with him.
This book is going to be awesome to use in the classroom because there are so many lessons that this book would support. Obviously, when you want a great book to discuss point of view, this story works because we're seeing all of the action from Fenway's perspective. The author, Victoria J. Coe, really does a terrific job writing in Fenway's voice and showing us what it's like to only understand bits and pieces of what's happening. Once in a while, he'll understand a word or two, like "treat" or "Fenway", but mostly he has to figure out what's happening through nonverbal cues. Here's an example from the first chapter: "Fetch Man smiles and kisses Food Lady's cheek. He speaks quickly and gestures a lot. Like he's the happiest human in the world. What's he so excited about?"
As Fenway tries to piece together all of these different mysteries, we have a great opportunity to teach inferencing skills. Here's one of my favorites from the book:
"Angel is about to head after the ball when strange sounds make us all stop.
Is it music, like fluty birds? It's moving toward us. It must be exciting because Hattie and Angel drop their fat gloves and squeal with glee. Do they know what it is?"
As the noise gets louder and closer, Fetch Man digs some flimsy paper out of his pocket and gives it to Hattie and Angel. Finally a truck appears. Here's a chance to see if students can figure out what's going on based on Fenway's descriptions of the events.
There are also a lot of nice messages about growing up and friendship and love. It's a book that leaves reader's feeling good. I definitely want this book as a part of my classroom library!
This review is based on an Advance Uncorrected Galley Proof sent to me by the author and publisher.
Expected publication: February 9, 2016 by GP Putnam's Sons/Penguin Young Readers
Ages 8-12; Grades 3-7