Sunday, January 29, 2017

review: elvis and the underdogs by jenny lee

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Following a seizure at school, 10 year old elementary school outcast Benji is told he’s going to have to wear a helmet to protect his head from potential falls unless his parents agree to get him a service dog. Benji’s mom (who is the ultimate helicopter mom and incredibly annoying) immediately says no to the dog citing Benji’s allergies and her white rug. But after the helmet results in a(nother) bullying incident, Benji’s mom relents. Elvis arrives shortly thereafter, but Elvis is no regular service dog—he’s actually intended for the president to thwart attacks and Elvis is able to speak in English to Benji. Although Elvis is disappointed not to be at The White House, the pair soon bond and Benji makes a few friends at school.

Elvis and the Underdogs is a very cute, entertaining story although it sometimes reads more like a script than a novel which is likely due to author Jenny Lee’s employment as a writer for the Disney Channel. Lee also makes a few mistakes that young readers are unlikely to pick up on, but could be important for them to know the difference about. For example, she uses “therapy dog” and “service dog” interchangeably and fails to have the children follow Epi-Pen protocol (understandable that the children wouldn’t know, but the nurse they had on the phone should’ve instructed them to call 911 and go to the hospital following the injection).
Review copy provided by the publisher, Balzer + Bray.

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