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Pals are mad about pups in new book

That collection you’ve got is really growing.

You’re always looking for things to add to it, and your friends and family know what you need to fill in the blanks. Holidays are particularly special because you usually get gifts to go with your collection, which is always fun. And in “Bailey: Puppy Pals” by Susan Hughes, two girls start collecting something unusual.

More than anything in the whole world, Kat Reynolds wanted a puppy.

She daydreamed about puppies, imagined what kind she’d want, thought about coat colors she liked and picked out names. Kat. Loved. Dogs. But, sadly, neither her parents nor the parents of her best friend, Maya, would let either girl get a puppy.

Puppy love wasn’t the only thing Kat and Maya had in common. They’d been friends forever, and, until this year, they’d even been in the same classroom. Maya was in another fourth-grade room now, which made things difficult: two Mean Girls kept teasing Kat about some boy, and having Maya in the same room would’ve helped a lot.

Even so, that drama couldn’t compare to Kat’s good news: Her Aunt Jenn had started a dog grooming business! She had lots of clients and was really busy, so when Kat and Maya saw a chance to spend time with Aunt Jenn’s first boarder, a yellow Lab puppy named Bailey, they volunteered, fast! They could get pictures of Bailey and add them to their Puppy Collection scrapbook!

Grateful for the help, Jenn made sure both girls knew exactly how to take Bailey out of the kennel and pick him up. She made sure Kat and Maya knew what was safe for Bailey to play with. And she warned both girls that they were absolutely not supposed to take Bailey outside in the backyard.

But Bailey was such a cute little guy and he was so active! What would it hurt if the girls took him out back for just a minute? Jenn would never know … would she?

Kids and dogs: They create their own mutual Fan Club every time. So wouldn’t a kids’ book about dogs — a book such as “Bailey: Puppy Pals” — be perfect?

The answer, if you want a gentle book for your animal-lover, is “yes.”

There’s a certain sense of timeless-but-modern innocence and nostalgia to Hughes’ story; her main characters are not into drama, fashion or gadgets, and they like boys as friends but they like dogs better. Parents will be happy to note that both girls are good kids who act responsibly, which is part of the storyline and which seems to get kids ready for the next book in the series. That means that readers who like Kat and Maya and their adventures won’t have to stop spending time with them.

While there’s no reason for boys to avoid this book, it’s really best for girls ages 7 to 10, especially those who are new to chapter books. If that’s your girl and she loves dogs, “Bailey: Puppy Pals” is a great tale for her collection.

View publishes Terri Schlichenmeyer’s reviews of books for children weekly.

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