"Lily, a True Story of Courage and the Joplin Tornado"

Dogs don’t take kindly to bees—but Newsbee would never sink his stinger into man or beast. I’m a good do-bee, taking the sting out of finding great books. Sure you’ll enjoy these March reviews on my “Sniffing Out Good Books” theme.

Until next month, “Page On!”

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“Spike the Ugliest Dog in the Universe,” by Debra Frasier.

Reviewed by Brooke Durbin, second grade, St. John the Baptist School.

“I thought this book would be about a really ugly dog. It was about an ugly dog that was a good dog. The dog even acted like a cat so people would like it more. Also, the dog became a hero.

“I liked this book because it was great that it showed the dog really was not ugly. The dog was really cool. I would not change anything about this book because it was great. I would recommend ‘Spike’ to Brandon because he likes dogs, but he doesn’t like ugly dogs.”

Reviewed by Joseph Zagarri, Kindergarten, Beaufort Elementary School.

“I like this book. Spike won a contest, Ugliest Dog in the Universe. His owner and his girlfriend, Sweetie, left Spike tied to a porch. How mean?!

“Luckily a little boy named Joe (like me!) found him and took him home. Joe loved Spike and Spike loved Joe. But Joe’s mom wanted to take Spike to the dog pound! Spike has a pretty cat friend, Evangeline. She was nice and they talked a lot.

“One day Sweetie and Spike’s old owner tried to steal Evangeline. But Spike caught them and saved the day! Joe and his mom talked for a long time and still went to the dog pound, but they got him a collar and tag! They kept Spike and loved him! As Spike would say…“Don’t judge a book by its cover.’”

Reviewed by Eleanor Pettet and Kate Snider, both eight, St. Francis Borgia Grade School.

“One day a dog named Spike was entered in the Ugliest Dog in the Universe contest. He won the contest, and he thought it was awful.

“The main characters in the book are Spike, Evangeline, Joe, Joe’s mom, Spike’s owner and Sweetie.

“This story seems to take place in a small town neighborhood. Spike and Joe were neighbors. Spike’s owner left him behind because of his new girlfriend, Sweetie. She only liked big fluffy cats.

“The most interesting thing about this book is that first the cat helped the dog, but then the dog had to help the cat. We didn’t like Sweetie because she tried to steal Evangeline. We liked Spike because he helped save Evangeline, and we liked Joe because he helped Spike by untying and feeding him.

“We admire Joe because he was helpful to Spike, and Joe’s mom because she let Joe keep Spike. We think this was a good book because it kept our interest. The title is good for this book because Spike IS ugly.

“I, Eleanor, would recommend this book to my sister Lillian because she loves ALL dogs, and I, Kate, would recommend it to my brother Adam because he doesn’t care what a dog looks like.”

Reviewed by Mrs. Kluesner’s First Grade Class, Central Elementary School.

“Spike won the ugliest dog in the universe contest! HE was sad and embarrassed about it; then to make matters worse, his owner left him for a new girlfriend, Sweetie, who only likes cats.

“The neighbor boy Joe came to take care of Spike, but his mom said he needed to go to the pound because they didn't have the money to take care of him.

“We laughed a lot while reading this book and the pictures are fantastic! WE highly recommend reading this book, if you want to laugh!”

Reviewed by Aidan Van Leer, Second Grade, Clearview Elementary School.

“This book is about a dog who won the ugliest dog in the universe award and then gets left alone by his owner and then someone finds him.

“My favorite part of the book was when Spike started to act like a cat.

“I would recommend this book to my friend Adam because he likes realistic fiction. I hope you like my review.”

Reviewed by Cameran Hydar, Second Grade, Clearview Elementary School.

“This story is about a dog named Spike. One day his owner made Spike feel bad because he entered him in the ugliest dog in the universe contest. Spike won first place.

“My favorite part was when Spike purred and followed cat rules.

“I would recommend this book to my grandpa and grandma! I love this book.”

Reviewed by Hailey Barton, Second Grade, Clearview Elementary School.

“I like this book the most because the background is made of jeans. First, cat gave Spike advice. Then Spike gave the cat advice.

“My favorite part is when Spike saves cat.

“I recommend this book to my sister Ella. I hope she likes it. I loved this book.”

Reviewed by Andrew Busch, St. John Gildehaus School.

“I thought this book would be about a dog named Spike who was very, very ugly. It was about a dog that won the ugliest dog in the universe award. Then his owner abandoned him. But the neighbor boy saved him from the dog pound.

“I liked the book because there was a bulldog in the story, and I like bulldogs. I would recommend it to bulldog (if they could read) because it is about a bulldog.

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“Lily, A True Story of Courage and the Joplin Tornado,” by Carolyn Mueller.

Reviewed by Sophie Nieder, fourth grade, Campbellton Elementary School.

“This book is the perfect combination of courage, tragedy and love between dogs and their owners. It’s about Tara Prosser, an ordinary Search and Rescue (SAR) dog trainer from Joplin and Lily, a cute and delightful Weimaraner whom Tara loved.

“Tara fell in love with Lily in a little pet shop in Joplin. She was determined to get that puppy. She soon decided that Lily could be an SAR dog, so they began training. Quite a time later, Lily was rushed to ICU. She had Addison’s disease. Tara was worried that Lily wouldn’t make it.

“A year later, on May 22, 2011, a terrible tornado hit Joplin. Tara and Lily were assigned to search the debris for people who were trapped. Joplin is still fixing the damage today.

“I loved how the author describes the setting of the aftermath of the tornado and Tara’s feelings. Carolyn Mueller used tools that make a children’s book great. I liked this book because I could relate to Tara because I have a dog. Whether you are a child or an adult, a pet lover or just love reading, I can 99.9 percent guarantee that you will love ‘Lily’s Story.’”

Reviewed by Olivia Espowe, Immaculate Conception School.

“Lily is a puppy with big energy. Tara trained her to be a search and rescue dog. An old lady wandered in the woods and Oily went off and saved her life. But then Lily got sick so a doctor gave her special medicine and she was all better.

“Then a big mile-wide tornado hit and almost everything got destroyed in Joplin. Two hundred mile-per-hour winds came. And with Lily’s nose they found lots of people. But most of them were hurt, killed and other stuff like that.”

“Tara and Lily had to search St. John’s Hospital. And they had to go on the roof and when Tara was up there she was scared because she was afraid of heights. And Tara saw how much damage the town had. And the people of Joplin fixed the place piece by piece. And people helped each other and the town looked like it was brand new.

“I would recommend this book to Mrs. Gildehaus because she went to Joplin, and we sent money to Joplin school even. I hope you enjoyed reading my review.”

Reviewed by Madison Raymond, Third Grade, Immaculate Conception School.

“This is a true story. The dog, people and the tornado area all true. This tornado hit Joplin, Missouri, about three years ago. The story starts out with a girl named Tara and a dog named Lily.

“Lily and Tara were best friends. But one day Lily got sick. But she did survive. Tara trained Lily to be a rescue dog. They tried different games to teach her how to be a rescue dog.

“One day Lily had to use her skills. A 200 mph tornado hit. After it was over, Lily and Tara went to look for lost people. Will they find everyone? Can Lily be a hero? Find out in this book.

“I recommend this book to Mrs. Gildehaus, a teacher in our school. Because she went to Joplin in the summer to help clean up. That must have been a big tornado.”

Reviewed by Hannah Mauchenheimer, Fourth Grade, Cambellton Elementary School.

“Author Carolyn Mueller wrote this non-fiction book to tell how a dog-loving owner and her dog helped search for missing people after the Joplin tornado. The dog owner and her husband are both rescue people.

“I would give this book five our of five beehives. I would recommend this book to kind people and dog lovers. I loved the book and hope you do too.

“This book has several adventures. One of them was looking for an old lady lost in the woods, driving through the Joplin tornado, and after the tornado, Lily and Tara walking up on to the top of St. John’s Hospital searching for missing people.

“Tara and her husband live in Joplin. One day they went to a pet store. Tara found a wiemariner and fell in love with her. Tara loved Lily a lot. To find out more about the story you will have to read the book.”

Reviewed by Isabelle Zagarri, third grade, Beaufort Elementary School.

“This is a good book because it’s a true story about a rescue dog, Lily, in Joplin. She saves people.Tara, her owner, trained Lily to be a search and rescue dog. One day, a double tornado hit Joplin. It was a mile wide with 200 mph winds! Lily went to work!

“Many people were hurt, missing, or lost.Tara and Lily had to search though a hospital and go up on the roof. When they got up there, Tara couldn’t believe what she saw! She saw piles of lumber where buildings used to be. She saw trees uprooted and cars thrown all over. People were helping and working together!

“Lily was happy when she got home; she was ok and Joplin would be ok too. I would recommend this book to kids that live in Missouri, and kids who love dogs!

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“The Incredible Journey,” by Sheila Burnford.

Reviewed by Newsbee.

A mix-up casts three creatures into the Canadian wilderness, an old English bull terrier, perky Labrador retriever and regal Siamese cat. The companions, dedicated to one another, eventually find their way back to their former home, their only map their primal instincts.

When the pet’s owner, Mr. Longridge, leaves his home for a vacation, he assumes the animals will be cared for by of his housekeeper, who looks in on his property. But there’s a miscommunication; she believes the trio of friends have gone along with him. That isn’t the case, of course. For 250 miles, the companions travel on through the dense woods. Along the way, they battle wild animals, floodwaters, fatigue and ever-present hunger, using their noses and intuition to guide them.

Their trail of danger is fraught with near disaster, and skillfully rendered in black and white illustrations by Carl Burger. Here’s an old favorite sure to be a new favorite of young readers and their families alike.