B O O K R E V I E W : Sign Here by Claudia Lux

Sign Here
by Claudia Lux
On sale today!

Working in Hell is, well, hell. The temperature is never quite right, puddles of indeterminate depth randomly appear, coworkers are horrible and bosses worse, Jägermeister is the only drink besides water available, and don’t even ask about the food. Peyton Trip has suffered through these discomforts (and worse) for eons, but he has a plan—he just needs to get one member of the Harrison family to sign away their soul. Cal, a new recruit to the Deals department, has her own secret schemes that could undermine Pey’s carefully laid groundwork.

Unaware that they are marks, the Harrisons—Silas, Lily, Sean, and Mickey, along with Mickey’s new (and first) best friend, Ruth—travel to their summer house in New Hampshire where generations of the family have vacationed. Pey, though, might not be the biggest threat to the family; instead it could be the secrets in their midst.

Sign Here has such an original premise with details that make hell such a vivid setting (though very disturbing when considering Downstairs where the worst punishment is carried out). The comedy is dark Vonnegut-style rather than LOL humor.

At fourteen, Mickey undergoes the ups and downs of adolescence, idolizing the confident and more experienced Ruth who also makes indelible impressions on the rest of the family as cracks in their relationships allow the past to infect the present.

Pey is a fiendish and manipulative narrator, though sympathetic enough I hoped he escaped hell while Cal thinks she is the smartest person in the room and may be right.

I really enjoyed the book and its messages about love, trust, and redemption. It was a very satisfying read though not light-hearted as I expected. Recommended for readers who enjoy family drama, mysteries, and a touch of something new, and different.

BOOK REVIEW: The Juggling Pug, featuring a cute but naughty pup

The Juggling Pug
by Sean Bryan
Illustrated by Tom Murphy

Being a pug lover, I had to read The Juggling Pug. In the book, written for children ages three to six, a talented pug learns to juggle. He and his town become famous. But pug is naughty, destroying homes, digging on floors, and pooping on carpet. Since kids get such a kick out of laughing at bodily functions, I’m sure that will amuse young readers!

One day, a girl lost her patience and declared to the town that no matter how good he was for the town, they should get rid of him because he is so troublesome. Pug begged forgiveness and promised to change his ways, but he can’t resist pooping on his friend Doug’s carpet.

The illustrations are great, and it would be fun to discuss with a young reader how many different things pug juggles. I am conflicted about the story itself. It seems draconian to expel pug without some coaching. Then when pug gets a reprieve, his promises are false and he doesn’t even try to be more well-behaved.

Insofar as a kid is exposed to the book without any critical analysis, they may come away internalizing some poor messages. However, if the reader uses the story as a teaching moment, then the book can be a springboard for discussing respect for others and their property as well as consequences of bad behavior.

BOOK REVIEW: Pug Meets Pig, a book about new friends and change, plus pugs and pigs!

Gallion, Sue Lowell - Pug Meets Pig (1)Pug Meets Pig
Sue Lowell Gallion
Illustrated by Joyce Wan

Pug loves his house and he loves his routine; everything is just right. He sleeps in his comfortable house, goes to “work” barking at the neighbors and digging holes, and eating from his personalized food bowl. That is, everything is just right until Pig arrives. Pig ruins everything. She shares his bed, eats from his bowl, and makes friends with the neighbors. But Pug learns that having a friend might not be so bad.

With adorable illustrations, Pug Meets Pig sends the message that change is not always bad and that friends can make even everyday activities more fun. Recommended for children ages four to eight, this book will be sure to delight them with it’s fun repetition and silly characters. Pug lovers, too, need this in their libraries. Pug’s expression are priceless and really capture pugs’ personalities.

Be sure to check out the sequel, Pug and Pig Trick-or-Treat. I hope that Gallion and Wan produce more Pug & Pig books!

Gallion, Sue Lowell - Pug Meets Pig (3)

BOOK REVIEW: Pug & Pig Trick-or-Treat, a treat for pug lovers

Gallion, Sue Lowell - Pug & Pig Trick-or-TreatPug & Pig Trick-or-Treat
by Sue Lowell Gallion
Joyce Wan, Illustrator

I love pugs, and I love pigs, so it was impossible for any other outcome than me loving this adorably illustrated and sweet picture book. Pig loves Halloween, and has matching costumes for her and her best friend, Pug. She’s so looking forward to handing out candy, trick-or-treating, and going to a Halloween party. But Pug hates the costume! Will Pug destroy Pig’s favorite holiday, or will they find a way they can both enjoy the celebrations?

Joyce Wan’s illustrations are delightful, and the definitely capture the range of emotions the mischievous critters express. The colors of the drawings reflect fall, and the Halloween decorations reflect a definite pug and pig touch. The story, by Sue Lowell Gallion, is excellent to read along with young readers and shows the value of compromise and the joy of friendship.

Gallion, Sue Lowell - Pug & Pig Trick or Treat