Review: Madison Morgan: When Dogs Blog (Project Madison #1) by Pam Torres

Review: Madison Morgan: When Dogs Blog (Project Madison #1) by Pam TorresMadison Morgan by Pam Torres
Series: Project Madison #1
Published by Pam Torres on July 21, 2012
Pages: 166
Goodreads |

Life is getting tricky for eleven-year-old Madison Morgan. She’s not interested in boys, fashion, or the latest gossip, unlike her best friend Paige. Since her mom died, her stepdad, who she knows as Henry, has way too many complicated systems around the house but way too little to say about her mom’s death. To top it off, in her first year of middle school, Madison and her new friend Cooper have become the “school project” of a bully named Donald. And all she really wants is a dog to call her own, but all she gets is the parental-brush-off. What is a straight-talking, spunky middle grader going to do? Kids from ages nine- to twelve-years-old are sure to get a laugh from every page of Madison Morgan: When Dogs Blog, the young adult novel by author Pam Torres that charts the sometimes tough, frequently funny days of the wise-cracking, dog-loving Madison. When her dad arrives home with a foster dog, a scrawny brown terrier named Lilly, Madison is amazed to find she has an ability to understand dogs, their emotions, and often their pasts. However, this rare ability also leads her to uncover some extremely harmful activities that are happening right in her very own neighborhood. If she exposes the culprits behind them, she may risk losing Cooper, not to mention destroy her plan to remain invisible at school. As Madison struggles to feel normal and understand her ability to translate dog-speak, this coming-of-age story shares how one quirky young girl saves the day with the help of her father and their friend Netta at the Second Chance Rescue Shelter. Frank, funny, and full of adventure, Madison Morgan: When Dogs Blog is a must for any middle grader, who is certain to be enthralled by this dog blogger.

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

I struggle with this book a little. On one hand, it has a really cute story and I liked Madison a lot. On the other, the narrative is a little superficial and could benefit from more showing and less telling. Perhaps it’s because the book is categorized as middle-grade. I think it reads a little too easy for middle-grade and is probably for readers who are almost to middle-grade level, but not quite. I hesitate to give an age range because kids read at all different levels. But at the heart of the matter is narrative development. There were a lot of moments that were explained in dialogue that could have been explored within the narrative itself. Though the story concept has a lot of depth, I can’t help but think that the execution was a little off for the targeted age range. That’s the problem with first person narrative. It’s really hard to show the growth of other characters from a first-person perspective.

But, despite this, Madison Morgan is a cute character. She has a lot of heart and I love that she is interested in making the world better for animals. I’m always on the lookout for strong female characters in children’s, middle grade, and YA literature. I think Madison Morgan fits the bill. She’s curious, puts the needs of others before her own, and is passionate about the issues that matter most to her. I just wish Cooper was as developed as Madison is. He’s an interesting character with the potential for a lot of depth. I also really liked the unconventional family situation Madison lives in. She lives with her step-father only. They have a cute relationship that I would have liked to see more of.

Genre classification aside, I think a lot of kids will enjoy this book. I also think it would be great for a family read-a-long. You could take turns reading it out loud. It can start some great conversations about animal rights.

three-stars

© 2014, Jessica Workman Holland. All rights reserved.