“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench
rollscresssandwichespottedmeatgingerbeerlemonadesodawater----'

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Waggit's Tale; Waggit Again • Middle grade fiction (illustrated)

Waggit's Tale and Waggit Again
By Peter Howe • Illustrated by Omar Rayyan
Waggit's Tale, July 2008 • Waggit Again, May 2009 •
HarperCollins Children’s Books • Middle grade fiction (illustrated)
A young dog lost--an unexpected family found
.
Story: When a small pup is abandoned by his owner in the city park, he meets a team of mutts who name him Waggit, for his powerful wagging tail. Waggit soon learns the lingo of his new friends and the dangers and hardships of life in the wild. But Waggit is sharp, and he becomes the best hunter and tracker in his group. Still, he remembers and longs for the comforts of home.
Story behind the story: Peter Howe got the idea for Waggit when he and his wife were living near Central Park. They were walking in the park when they found a puppy, about six-months old, who’d been badly abused. They took him home, planning to take him to a shelter after the weekend. He was so bouncy, they named him Roo, after the character in Winnie-the-Pooh. That weekend stretched into 14 years, and Roo lived a full and happy life with them. Peter often saw dogs, clearly wild, running around the woods in Central Park. They gave him the idea for the pack that Waggit meets and joins.

After Roo died, Peter and his wife adopted another rescued dog, who loves to come with him on school visits. If you’d like to have Peter visit your school or library, please contact
authorvisits@harpercollins.com.
FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent; please click on the "comments" link below for reviews from your colleagues.

11 comments:

Mary said...

Waggit’s Tale and Waggit Again! by Peter Howe

Publishers often advise would-be children’s authors to avoid talking animals. I have never understood this advice because children’s literature is filled with much-loved stories with talking animals. Waggit’s Tale and Waggit Again! are two such books.
In Waggit’s Tale, Peter Howe has convincingly created the world of stray dogs surviving in Central Park. The main character, Waggit (he wags his tale a lot when he is nervous), is an abandoned puppy that the team leader, Tazar, brings under his protection. The team is a group of stray dogs that live together in Central Park. To survive, each dog must put the team’s interest ahead of his or her own.
Tazar is a wise and noble leader with a deep mistrust for Uprights (humans). Lowdown is an older, short-legged dog that has good instincts and teaches Waggit how to survive and be a team member. Lowdown becomes Waggit’s dearest friend, and Waggit frets as old Lowdown grows feeble. Cal, Raz, Magica, Gruff, Gordo, Alicia, Alona, Little One, and Little Two are the other members of the team. Each dog has a distinctive personality and contributes to the team’s welfare in different ways. As Waggit grows, he proves his worth to the team by becoming the best hunter.
Peter Howe has invented a vocabulary for people, animals, and things that the dogs encounter. Even worse than the Uprights are the Ruzelas (any human in a uniform) who catch dogs and send them to the Great Unknown. The team survives the Long Cold (winter) by hunting Scurries, Nibblers, Hoppers, and Curlytails. They avoid Stoners, Petulents, and Rollers.
The underlying theme of this book is that although Waggit was abandoned by his Upright, he does not feel that Uprights are evil. He ultimately has to choose between the team and an Upright. It is not a surprise that the book ends with Waggit being adopted by a kind, loving Upright. The entire story marches steadily toward that conclusion. The inevitable conclusion does not make the adventures of Waggit and the team less exciting or fun to read. I found the book a fun adventure and can’t wait to share it with my middle-grade students. I was happy to have the sequel Waggit Again! to dive right into.
In Waggit Again! Waggit finds himself chained in a back of a farmhouse. His Upright has driven away, and Waggit thinks he has been abandoned again. He finally breaks the chain and escapes. His only thought is to return to Central Park and Tazar’s team. He doesn’t know where he is or how to get to Central Park. He runs into a strange Upright named Felicia. Felicia is a wanderer. She is very much like a homeless person, but the difference is that she has a trust fund that provides her with some money. Felicia has the gift of being able to understand and talk to dogs and a few other species. She befriends Waggit and joins him on his journey back to Central Park. Felcicia buys a map, gets them headed in the right direction, and buys food. Along the way they rescue Lug, a cowardly pit bull. He tags along. Finally, with the aid of Frosty the trucker, the trio makes it to Central Park. Waggit is concerned that the team will not accept him back, since he left them for an Upright. Tazar is as noble as ever and welcomes Waggit’s return. Though suspicious, Tazar gives Felicia a chance. It also helps that Felicia buys a feast for the dogs.
Although Waggit is glad to be back with the team, the team is experiencing hard times. The hard times are caused by Olang, Tazar’s son. Waggit has to deal with the team’s problems and once again choose between the team and his Upright.
Peter How leaves Waggit Again! wide open for book number three. I anxiously await another book about Waggit.
I rate these two books a five. These books deal with the harsh lives that stray dogs lead while offering fun, excitement, and adventure that any child will enjoy.

Mary Kirk
Media Coordinator
Sherwood Forest Elementary School

ahslibrarian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ahslibrarian said...

Waggitt Again is another frolicking tale that extends the trail of success established by Waggitt’s Tale. Peter Howe has managed to craft another story that will entice its readers, but it took him most of the book to make that case.

Readers expecting another tale from the perspective of the dog will not be disappointed. The introduction of several Uprights (humans) as major characters in this edition takes an unexpected turn from the first work. Nevertheless, Howe ventures into territory seldom combined with such good story; people who really communicate with animals.

The story is one of adventure and redemption for both humans and animals. Excitement abounds as Waggitt comes to terms with his past and the future that is his to claim. Along the way, more encounters with humans and dogs reveal their similar traits as Waggitt discovers that one can go home again.

Parts of the story are predictable, and that is exactly what the intended audience needs to fully involve them in this ongoing story. Howe also has a way of recreating imagery that teems with sight, smell, and sound. Too bad most of us humans do not appreciate it like our canine friends.

Waggitt Again should be an added to the bookshelf. Readers who enjoyed the first volume will demand this edition when the buzz begins. While most ‘dog books’ seem to curry the favor of boys, Waggitt Again crosses the divide and invites girls to identify with the two most important Uprights in Waggitt’s young life, both girls. Don’t be mistaken; it’s not a ‘girls book’ either. It is a wonderful read for ages ten and up.

4 out of 5

John Parker
Media Coordinator
Andrews High School
Andrews, NC 28901

Sandra Stiles said...

Waggit's Talke and Waggit Again!

I loved the characters created by Peter Howe. We grew up with books with talking animals. In today's society talking animal books have become taboo among writers. Peter Howe takes a risk and does it well. You are drawn in immediately and feel sorry for Waggit knowing his owner cared so little for him that he let him loose in Central Park to fend for himself.
You feel happy that Tazar takes Waggit under his protection.
Waggit is happy to dp his part to provide food and do his part for the pack.
He doesn't really believe all Uprights (another name for humans) are bad. In the end he is adopted by a human.
In Waggit Again! Waggit mistakenly thinks he has been abandoned again. He decides to head back to familiar territory and family, Central Park and Tazar. He doesn't know if they will attack him or if they will let him stay. On his trip to Central Park he hooks up with Felicia a woman who can communicate with animals. She helps him find his way to Central Park and helps take care of his friends for a while.
Both groups help you see the crisis faced by abandoned/stray dogs.
I give these books a rating of 5 and definately will recommend them. I look forward to more works by this author.

Ellen said...

Waggit Again was a joy to read. The characters are easy to identify with and a joy to go on their journey with.
I came to appreciate the different dogs and root for them as well as Felicia because this book causes one to see the trials and tribulations through the eyes of a dog.
I rooted for Tazar and Waggit and was saddened by Olang's choices.
I am not familiar with the strays in Central Park, but this book does raise questions to ponder. Children can use this book as a stepping stone to learn about animal control and cruelty issues.
The glossary at the end of the book was helpful and an important aspect for me as I couldn't always remember the dog language.
I look forward to what the next book will hold for the team.
I give it a 4.

wordwarrior said...

Waggit’s Tale and Waggit Again! by Peter Howe

What a treat to have a new talking animals book! Middle grade readers often enjoy books with animal characters and this one by Peter Howe is no disappointment. Waggit and Waggit Again remind me a bit of the "Hank the Cowdog" series. The canines in Waggit live in central park and have been dissapointed by thier "Uprights" (humans in their lives). Yet they form a team with a leader named Tazar and learn to survive together. The dog language is unique and fun to learn. Howe even includes a glossary in the back to help the reader understand and remember what the words mean. Waggit Again is equally wonderful as its predecessor Waggit. This time Waggit mistakenly thinks he has been left by his new adopted owner (the ending of waggitt) and wants to go back to his team in Central Park. Along his way he finds a new friend, Felicia and together they get him back to his leader Tazar. Throughout the tale, the reader learns that there are good dogs and bad dogs just as there are good humans and bad humans, the trick is to not make too quick a judgement so you can find out which they are. I enjoyed these books and feel they are great compliments to any gradeschool to middleschool library. I look forward to the next Waggit story which I have faith will be coming. Rating 5

shelburns said...

Waggit's Tale

This is a sweet story told from a dog's point of view. I have to say that I am a sucker for animal books. When my kids at school ask me for a book recommendation, I usually point them to Bill Wallace, especially Beauty and A Dog Called Kitty. Those books have animals in them, but the main character is usually a child. Peter Howe's books will be ones that I add to the likes of Bill Wallace when I recommend books, because not only are they about animals, but the animals are the main characters which is different and wonderful. I have not known many kids who don't like dogs or reading about dogs. For Howe's first book for children, he chose characters that appeal to children. Waggit's Tale introduces us to Waggit and his life in the park. Stray dogs are commonplace in the country, but who knew there were groups of them in the heart of the city? My heart was with Waggit as Howe told his story. The writing is such that you get into the character and don't want to put the book down until you find out what happens to him. This book is full of suspense, mystery, adventure and humor which when all put together makes for a great story with a loveable main character. I give Waggit's Tale a 5 - strongly recommend.

shelburns said...

Waggit Again

Once again, Peter Howe gives us Waggit's story only this time he's older and has more friends. I enjoyed Waggit Again just as much as the Waggit's Tale. In this story, Waggit is out of the park living on a farm, but he doesn't like can't and can't believe his Upright has left him there. Howe tells Waggit's story as he meets up with 2 new friends and together, they venture back to the park where Waggit's Tale began, the place that he loves and feels he belongs. Like his first book, Howe tells the story from Waggit's point of view, drawing the reader in with the suspense and adventure. I fell in love with the new characters and was saddened at times by events in the story. Again, I was unable to put this one down until I knew what was going to happen. I can't say much more about this book without giving away spoilers. Waggit Again is due out in May, so keep an eye out for it. I do want to share some quotes from the book which I think sum up the theme well.

"So much had happened in such a short period of time. He had learned about survival and friendship, and loyalty and bravery through overcoming fear. He had also come to understand that the world was not always the friendly place he would like it to be. There were bad dogs...and bad humans like the men at the bar, and these you had to stand up to, even though it was scary and dangerous."

"What he had learned was that both humans and dogs are often different from the way they first seem, and to judge too quickly was often to be wrong. It was a lesson he would try to live by."

Aren't those things that we all wish our children would learn? Not only has Howe written a great story, but he leaves you with life lessons.

I give Waggit Again a rating of 5 -strongly recommend.

Tina's Blog said...

After reading others' posts I will admit I wasn't even really struck by the fact that the animals talk. Isn't that normal for animals in children's literature? I finished the first book as a read aloud to my daughters (which is why it has taken me so long) and they both enjoyed it a lot. They totally get into the idea of talking animals. Waggit's story is one my girls liked, yet I think at five and seven they might not have thought about issues that go along with this book - animal cruelty. I will also admit that I had never thought about the idea of strays being left in Central Park.
I predict these books will be checked out repeatedly in my library- we have so many dog lovers - both girls and boys.
And, I liked both the map and the glossary - both of which I plan on pointing out to kids as they check out since I am not sure they would discover them on their own.

Sonia said...

Is it just me, or does Disney's "Oliver & Company" come to mind when beginning "Waggit's Tale"? Lost puppy falls in with band of stray dogs....However, being a lover of animal stories since I was a child, I must say that this is a book that middle readers will thoroughly enjoy. Written from the dogs' point of view, I especially liked their vocabulary, and was glad to see that Mr. Howe even included a glossary at the end of the book. The maps were very helpful as well. Our students will love this book. I give it a 4.

m.otoole said...

I really enjoyed reading Waggit's Tale and Waggit Again by Peter Howe to my 2 daughters, the maps on the front and back pages reminded me of books from my childhood. My recent experince working in a school library has shown me that children love books where animals are given a rich secret world and I know that this book will fit into my collection perfectly.