Thursday, December 9, 2010

Space Dogs, by Justin Ball and Evan Croker

I saw this book at the library and thought my kids would like it. They had a lot of copies of it, which seemed like a testament of kids' appreciation.

The book was very, very slow reading. I believe I first checked it out in July. We renewed it the maximum number of times, then returned it and checked out another copy, and renewed that twice.

In terms of content, I was a little annoyed. There were lots of uses of "hell," mostly as a place, but once in the sense of "what the hell...." One use of "damn," implied sexual relations between two aliens, and one girl surmises that another girl is popular because she has "big boobs." If children's publishers did their job of recommending ages or grade levels (like they used to), I would have had a better idea of what was in store. As it was, I had to do some selective bowdlerizing as I read along.

Another big shortcoming of the book is how it promised to be about aliens and dogs, but spent a lot of time being about teenage love. And the message wasn't even a good one. It was "kiss first, look for compatibility later." And when the love-struck girl finally kisses the boy she likes, we read this: "She knew all the answers in class, and if she didn't, it didn't bother her because she had the only answer that really mattered: Dion Van Steenwyk [the boy she likes]" (156). I don't need my kids thinking a meaningless junior-high romance is all that really matters, and I certainly don't need my daughter hearing she should derive her self-worth from her pre-teen relationships.

Rating: two out of seven giant inflatable monkeys.

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