Friday, January 23, 2009
HOTEL FOR DOGS by Lois Duncan
It was a fun trip back into the past to review Lois Duncan's HOTEL FOR DOGS. I first read this heart-warming story about 10 years ago with my daughter. Now, with a few changes I've heard, it's a major motion picture.
In the original 1971 version, Liz* and her brother Bruce leave their home in New Mexico to move to the east coast. Their father has accepted a new job, and they are temporarily moving in with Aunt Alice. It might be the beginning of a great new adventure except Liz is extremely unhappy because her beloved pet Bebe has had to stay behind. Aunt Alice made it very clear that the dachshund was not welcome in her house since she is terribly allergic to dogs.
Shortly after their arrival, Liz and Bruce meet up with Jerry, the son of Aunt Alice's next door neighbors. They actually meet Jerry's beautiful Irish setter first. Although the dog is gorgeous and seems quite friendly, Jerry is not. Liz is shocked to watch the cruel way Jerry treats his own dog. She feels awful for the dog and misses her own Bebe even more.
One day a shaggy little stray dog appears in Aunt Alice's yard. It hops up on the porch, and Liz begs her mother to let her bring it something to eat. Her mother forbids her to feed the dog, saying that if she does, it will never leave and that would be unfair to Aunt Alice. Later that evening during a terrible thunderstorm, the little stray somehow ends up in the house and scampers upstairs only noticed by Liz. By the time she is able to excuse herself to follow it upstairs, it is nowhere to be found.
The next day when she convinces Bruce to help her search for the dog, they discover it in a closet. But now instead of just one stray dog, there are three brand new puppies as well. What should they do? They can't possibly keep a dog and three puppies in the house when Aunt Alice sneezes if they just mention the word dog. Bruce agrees to keep the secret until they can figure out a place to keep the animals.
It doesn't take long for Bruce to realize the empty house at the end of the street might provide just the place for a new family of dogs. Liz couldn't agree more, and soon their plan to save a few animals becomes much more than they ever dreamed.
HOTEL FOR DOGS is a cute story geared to independent readers age 9-12 and an excellent read-aloud for even younger audiences. Anyone with a soft spot for pets will enjoy this one.
*In the newer version of this book (released to come out along with the movie) the main character's name is Andi.