Category Archives: dogs

Bogart and Vinnie: A Completely Made-up Story of True Friendship by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Henry Cole

Did you know that in 2011, the United Nations designated July 30 as International Friendship Day?  If not, no worries–you can celebrate friendship any day of the year with Audrey Vernick’s newly-released picture book Bogart and Vinnie: A Completely Made-Up Story of True Friendship.

9780802728227Publisher’s Description:    When Vinnie, a crazy-happy dog, gets lost while visiting a nature preserve with his family, he finds comfort in the company of Bogart, a big, lazy rhinoceros. Vinnie loves his new friend, but Bogart would rather just take a nap. A friendship soon blossoms–even if Vinnie’s definition of “friendship” is very different from Bogart’s–and when word of their unique situation spreads, Bogart and Vinnie are a worldwide sensation! But as soon as their fifteen seconds of fame ends, what’s left is a bond even Bogart can’t ignore.

Pairing picture-book veteran, Henry Cole, with up-and-coming author, Audrey Vernick, this clever spoof of the unendingly popular interspecies animal-friendship story is full of heart and humor.


As an elementary school librarian, books on friendship are in high demand, not only from kids, but from teachers and guidance counselors, as well. Far from being didactic, Bogart and Vinnie is funny and poignant and entertaining–exactly what we’ve come to expect from Audrey Vernick. Illustrator Henry Cole has also done an amazing job. His work is so diverse, from the serious…


to the silly:


Take a look at the expressions of the faces of Bogart and Vinnie on the book’s cover, and you’ll have a good idea of how both Cole’s art and Vernick’s words make a pitch-perfect match.

obj469geo247pg8p25I asked Audrey how readers  connect with Bogart and Vinnie.

Biblio Links: A student walks into my library and I think: That kid needs a copy of  Bogart and Vinnie: A Completely Made-Up Story of True Friendship. Who is this kid?

Audrey Vernick: It’s actually a few different kids.

First, it’s a kid who likes to laugh. I recently read it with a child entering second grade and we both had so much fun. While she needed help with some words, her delight in discovering the humor herself was infectious. I think she was accustomed to being read to, especially her first time through a book. But the way she both decoded text and then understood, about a second later, that what she was reading was funny was absolutely delicious to watch. In terms of humor, I think a child who pays special attention to illustrations will have a lot of fun with this book–Henry Cole brought a tractorload of hilarious details.

I also think Bogart himself will be appreciated by the kind of reader I was–one who, even at a young age, had a respect and need for solitude. I still remember sitting with a book in the rocking chair in my bedroom, by myself, by choice, at a very young age. Though Bogart the rhinoceros would not fit in a rocking chair, the idea of time to himself is as appealing as it is impossible, once Vinnie enters his life.

Biblio Links: If we were to peek into a classroom where a teacher is using your book in a lesson or with a small group, what might we see?

Audrey Vernick: I think the teacher might have recently read Owen and Mzee, FC9780439829731or one of the many, many, many interspecies friendship picture books. And the teacher might be asking about the difference between those nonfiction tales and this completely made-up story of true friendship. He or she might also wonder, as I did, how the authors of those books defined friendship–does interaction always imply friendship? Does being photographed next to each other mean animals are best friends? The teacher might also ask the students in that small group to focus on the illustrations to see if sometimes what’s being shown in the pictures doesn’t exactly line up with what the text says–for example, are the animals really playing follow the leader, or is Bogart trying to lose Vinnie?

 Biblio LinksWhere can teachers, librarians and students learn more about you and your book?
Audrey Vernick: My,
facebook (as well as pages for my books), and
twitter: @yourbuffalo

Biblio Links: Thanks for stopping by, Audrey!

Check out Audrey’s middle grade novel, Water Balloon (Biblio Links interview hereand picture books, Bark and Tim,  Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? (Biblio Links interview here) and Teach Your Buffalo To Play The Drums, So You Want to Be a Rock Star? (Biblio Links interview here) and picture book biographies She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story and Brothers At Bat Biblio Links interview here).

The Nitty Gritty~

Publisher: Walker Children’s

Publication Date: June 2013

ISBN-10: 0802728227

ISBN-13: 978-0802728227

Interest Level: Ages 4 and up

Number of Pages: 40


Parched by Melanie Crowder

parched Melanie Crowder’s debut novel Parched is stunning, haunting and, in the end, hopeful. The prose is just as spare as the setting–an unnamed swath of Africa that has been struck by extreme drought. The story opens and ends with brief chapters that are narrated by main character Sarel’s dog, Nandi. In between, this story is told at times by Sarel, at times by Nandi, and at times by Musa, a boy with a gift for finding water who has escaped from an abusive gang who try to profit from Musa’s special gift.

Publisher’s description:   In this haunting, lyrical novel told from three perspectives, Sarel has just witnessed the violent murder of her parents. But she is not completely alone on the drought-ridden land.

Nandi is the leader of a pack of dogs who looks out for her pups and for skinny Sarel-girl. Nandi knows they are all in trouble, and she knows, too, that a boy is coming—an escaped prisoner with the water song inside him. A hard-hitting but ultimately hopeful survival story.


Melanie Crowder Author PhotoMelanie Crowder, author and teacher, stopped by Biblio Links to talk about how her novel Parched can be used in the classroom.

Biblio Links: Welcome, Melanie!

A student walks into my library and I think: That kid needs a copy of PARCHED. Who is this kid?

Melanie: He or she is probably a pensive kid, a thinking reader with a big heart.  PARCHED is a slim volume, so it may appeal to reluctant readers and English Language Learners as well.

Biblio Links: As a former ESL teacher I agree with that last suggestion! It’s often hard to find stories that have themes that older readers want to explore, yet have text that is accessible to a wide range of readers. Parched will definitely spark some interesting discussion for a wide range of readers.

If we were to peek into a classroom where a teacher is using your book in a lesson or with a small group, what might we see or hear?

Melanie: You might see kids experimenting with the narrative voices of different animals, or describing their classroom through Nandi’s eyes. You might see them consulting encyclopedias or online resources to complete the PARCHED field guide (coming soon–check my website this fall). Perhaps a small group is preparing a report for the class on water as a resource and how its scarcity or quality affects people in different parts of the world. And the teacher is probably consulting the discussion guide found here.

Biblio LinksWhere can teachers, librarians and students learn more about you and your book?

Melanie: The best place to look is my website: I hope to see you all there!
Biblio Links: Thanks for stopping by, Melanie!

Hand this book to the kid who:

* enjoys survival stories,

* has lost a loved one,

* is concerned about/interested in environmental issues, or

* loves dog stories.

Use this to teach:

Points of view–This story is told from three points of view: Sarel, a girl who has just lost her parents and must keep her dogs (and herself) alive; Musa, the boy with the gift of finding buried water sources, and Nandi, Sarel’s trusted canine friend. How might certain scenes in the story be told from other points of view–not just one of the other three main characters, but what about the band of thugs who kidnapped Musa? How about Musa’s brother?

* Earth Day--Parched would pair beautifully with Linda Sue Park’s A Long Walk to Water and Mindy McGinnis’ Not A Drop to Drink (a young adult novel coming in September 2013). Display these books in the months of March and April and launch a book talk/discussion on Earth Day, April 22.

*Types of Conflict— Lots of examples to choose from in this story–character vs. character (human and canine), self, society, and nature.

Curriculum Guide here

The Nitty Gritty~

Click here for glowing reviews from the likes of Kathi Appelt, Rita Williams-Garcia, and Franny Billingsly.

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: June 4, 2013

ISBN-10: 0547976518

ISBN-13: 978-0547976518

Number of Pages: 160

Reading Level: 5.4

Interest Level: Ages 10 and up

Thanks to Sheila at Book Journeys for starting this meme, and Jen (Teach Mentor Texts) and Kellee (Unleashing Readers) for turning it into a kid-lit meme!

Thanks to Sheila at Book Journeys for starting this meme, and Jen (Teach Mentor Texts) and Kellee (Unleashing Readers) for turning it into a kid-lit meme!

Visit Shannon Messenger's website for more marvelous middle grade titles!

Visit Shannon Messenger’s website for more marvelous middle grade titles!