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Dog Trouble!
By Galia Oz
A Book Review

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Dog Trouble!

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Dog Trouble!
By Galia Oz
Translated into English by Gilah Kahn-Hoffman
Crown Books for Young Readers, New York: 2017
ISBN: 978-0-399-55020-1
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult

Reviewed by Simone Bonim - August 18, 2017

Julia has a problem, and its name is Shakshuka!

For two weeks, Julia and her new puppy Shakshuka have been having a ball. That all comes to a screeching halt when Shakshuka goes missing. Is the puppy lost? Did it run away? Or, even worse, did Danny, a school yard bully, have something to do with the puppy's disappearance? This is just the start of a series of adventures, and misadventures, that Julia and Shakshuka have in the delightful middle grade novel, Dog Trouble!.

Originally published in Hebrew as three interconnected chapter books, these three books have been combined into one book and translated into English by Gilah Kahn-Hoffman. The books in Dog Trouble! were written by the well-known Israeli writer, Galia Oz, and they are actually the first three books in the Shakshuka series. The three books in Dog Trouble! include Shakshuka Disappears (Shakshuka Ne'elemet), Shakshuka Strikes Again (Shakshuka Shtayim, a.k.a. Shakshuka Two), and Shakshuka and the Awfully Dreadful Cat (Shakshuka Me'ametzet Chatul Ayom Ve-Nora, a.k.a. Shakshuka and the Really Evil Cat). There are at least two other books in the Shakshuka series, Shakshuka and the World War Between Good and Bad, and Shakshuka and the Great Lemon Robbery. To my knowledge, neither of these last two books has been translated into English, yet!

Dog Trouble! is written in a lively first-person narrative style that will resonate with young readers. In addition to the story being witty and often humourous, it also touches upon many of the same issues that face children the world over. These issues range from bullying and dealing with younger siblings (in this case Julia has two younger, twin brothers). Julia also has to deal with 'growing-up' issues such as how to interact with a school principle that she is not overly keen on. And, then there is the problem of what to do when her best-friend appears to be pushing her aside so that she could be best-friends with Julia's main rival in school. From beginning to end, the issues that Julia has to deal with in these stories will connect with the book's readers. Most important, the book's readers will have fun as they follow the adventures of Julia and Shakshuka, and how they, along with the help of their friends - mange to get out of trouble and learn some valid life lessons along the way.

The only real problem with these three interconnect stories is that Shakshuka is more of a secondary character, rather than a main character. For a story about dog troubles, I expected that Shakshuka would have had a starring role in the stories. Granted, her name is mentioned on a regular basis, but she is used more as a prop, and rarely shows up in 'person'. Rather, the main story line is focused more upon Julia and her friends, Effie and Brody, as they deal with the everyday, mostly school related, issues that kids face. This sometimes includes not being as nice or truthful as they really should be - in other words, these stories are very true to life. Along the way they mange to have a lot of fun, and learn some important life lessons. There is nothing wrong about this story line, and they are very enjoyable stories - I just happen to like dogs and would have liked the stories to have had more of a focus on Shakshuka.

These stories have been a favorite with young readers in the 7-12 age bracket for many years, and this new English edition is sure to thrill students whose main language is English, or who are learning English. Although not marketed as a large print book, this book is printed in a 14-point font. While not as large of a font as many large print books (most are in 16-point), it is larger than most standard print books and it will serve most readers who need, or simply desire, a larger than normal print size. In addition, ample space has been included between words, and the lines of text, to make it easier to focus on the words you are reading.


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