Title: Friends for Life
Author: Billi Tiner
Genre: YA - Animal Fiction
Publisher: self (May 8, 2012)
Available: $2.99 at Amazon
Rating: 4 stars
From the publisher:
Bo and Rico are two puppies who meet at a pet store. The puppies are dognapped from the pet store by two goons. Realizing they are in danger, Bo and Rico must work together to escape the dognappers. After their escape, Bo and Rico find themselves scared and alone on the mean city streets. They are rescued by a streetwise stray named Tank. Tank takes the puppies under his wing and teaches them how to survive on the streets. Bo and Rico embark on several adventures including avoiding the local Animal Control officer, Jimmy; several run-ins with a pack of dogs led by a stray named Mongrel; and rescuing a beautiful lost Poodle named Pearl. Through it all, Bo and Rico form an incredible friendship that will last a lifetime.
What I liked: My son (9) and I have read this twice. It’s a sweet, heartwarming story featuring dog protagonists, and stresses the courage it takes to overcome some scary obstacles. The adventures are fun, the characters are goodhearted, and there’s enough action to keep young readers interested. My son enjoyed it both times.
What I didn’t like: I am a huge, huge no-kill animal rescue advocate (I donate all proceeds from my own books' sales to no-kill rescue), and for two reasons I tend to stress the importance of never buying dogs from breeders: one: puppy mills, and even non-mills don’t generally treat mamas well at all; and two: thousands of unwanted pets die every day in shelters, so why in the world are we breeding more? The dogs in this story are from a breeder, as are most dogs in pet stores, and I would have given this book five giant stars if the dogs had been rescues, or from a shelter or rescue group. If you read this book to your kids, or let them read it, make sure you know this going in, and explain these issues to your kids in words that fit their learning and emotional levels.
In sum: My son and I liked this book, and I’d recommend it for elementary-aged kids, with the caveat I listed above.