Jenny Lee puts a canine spin on the value of friendship — or finding your pack — in Elvis and the Underdogs (Balzer + Bray, $16.99). Sure Benji has friends: the doctors and nurses at the hospital where he spends most of his time, the librarian, since he eats alone in the library when he is at school, and his mom, who fiercely watches over him. However, when he has a seizure and his doctor tells him he either has to wear an extraordinarily ugly helmet to school or get a therapy dog, Benji opts for the dog. Upon arrival, the dog, Parker Elvis Pembroke IV, emphatically informs Benji that he was meant to be the President’s dog and there has clearly been a mix-up. Benji can understand Elvis — everyone else hears barking or growling — and Elvis is worth listening to: “Benjamin. I’m not going to eat in the library. Maybe you can eat neatly enough to be allowed to do so, but I cannot. I’m a dog. I eat off the floor, when I think about food, I produce a large quantity of saliva. It’s a physiological response that is Pavlovian and is a long story that I can’t get into right now, especially when I’m hungry”. Elvis is a therapy dog with the personality of Frazier Crane. He’s serious about his duty to protect Benji, but Elvis also knows a little something about the importance of having a pack and he’s determined to help Benji create his own.

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