Readers will relate to Fenway’s impulsivity and delight in descriptions from his dog’s-eye view. Teachers and adults will appreciate generous sprinklings of rich vocabulary. –School Library Journal
Fenway may not understand Hattie’s behavior, but readers looking through his uncomprehending eyes will follow her ups and downs easily as she adjusts to the move. They’ll also wince in sympathy as she tries, with mixed success, to train, or even restrain, her barky, hyper, emotional pet. —Booklist
This perky, pet-centered tale takes readers inside the head of Fenway, an energetic and perpetually hopeful Jack Russell terrier with a deep love for food, intense hatred of squirrels, and undying adoration of his “small human,” Hattie. . . A fun, fresh frolic that animal-loving kids are sure to enjoy.—Publishers Weekly
Please tell us about your book.
Fenway and Hattie is about a dog named Fenway and his girl Hattie who move from an apartment in the city to a house in the suburbs, where they each struggle with big changes. But you only get Fenway’s side of the story, because the whole book is told from his point of view.
What inspired you to write this story?
I was inspired to write this story when my own family experienced a move and our dog was afraid we’d leave him behind. The move was hard on all of us, but I was especially tuned in to my dog’s fears and insecurities. As we took long walks together, I noticed how he checked everything out and I started to wonder what was going through his mind. That’s how the character of Fenway was born.
Could you share with readers a few interesting tidbits you learned while researching?
I’ve learned a lot about how dogs experience the world! Here are some interesting tidbits:
Dogs smell! But dogs don’t just smell scents; they use their noses to gather information. By smelling, dogs can tell:
- What’s new vs. what’s familiar
- If a person or another dog is a male or female
- What foods you’ve eaten
- What places you’ve been
- If a scent is faint or strong (that’s how dogs tell time)
- What you’ve touched and what’s touched you
- Dogs can even smell people’s feelings
Dogs make sounds, but they primarily communicate by body language. How dogs carry their ears or tails, whether they’re panting or baring their teeth, and what posture they assume can tell another dog all kinds of information. And dogs read our body language, too. They know from our bodies how we’re feeling and what our intentions are.
Dogs are always studying people. They know our routines – maybe better than we know ourselves! They also pick up on cues, like grabbing the leash comes before going for a walk. Dogs know all of our habits and when something changes, a dog is usually the first to notice!
What are some special challenges associated with writing from a dog’s point of view?
Ha! How long is this blog, Caroline? I like to say that writing from a dog’s point of view is just like regular writing only with both hands tied behind your back!
Seriously though, since dogs don’t understand most human language, I can only write actions, sounds, or observations that a dog would know – I can’t rely on human dialogue.
There are so many elements of the human world that dogs don’t know. Fenway doesn’t know how old Hattie is or what town they live in. And he certainly doesn’t know what she does when she’s not with him — unless he can see, hear, or smell clues, and he often comes to the wrong conclusion!
For instance, early on in the story, Hattie is packing. Fenway remembers that he’s seen her do this before – right before she disappeared and left him alone. And something really terrible must’ve happened to her because when she came back she smelled like burnt marshmallows and squirrels.
What topics does your book touch upon that would make it a perfect fit for the classroom?
Fenway and Hattie is a perfect mentor text for both point of view and inference. My classroom guide contains both POV activities and exercises as well as a discussion guide for the book – which as you can see from the packing example I just described is a lot of inference!