March 19, 2013

Blog Tour: Rotten by Michael Northrop -- Guest Post

Top 10 Dogs in YA
By Michael Northrop

Unless you grew up on a deserted island—or you’re a cat person—you probably know that there are one barkzillion dog-themed middle grade novels out there. From Sounder to Shiloh, you could do a Top 10 list just with the S’s. But there are surprisingly few solidly YA dog books. Sure, kids and dogs are a great combination, but teens need love, loyalty, and wet noses too. I did a little digging (the dogs would approve), and came up with a solid Top 10. These dogs mostly come from books with teenage main characters, but a few YA judgment calls were made along the way.

1) Old Yeller, from Old Yeller by Fred Gipson. How could I not pull the trigger on this pick? Sure, it has a ruff ending, but this Newbery Award- winning novel is a true classic (and main character Travis Coates is 14).

2) Manchee, from The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. Another tough book for dogs—and the fact that you can hear poor Manchee’s thoughts right up to the bitter end makes this one especially affecting.

3) Fang, from the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling. Sure, you could call this middle grade, but Fang is still around when Harry & Co. hit their turbulent teens. (Fluffy has already been set free in the Forbidden Forest by then.) Fang is played by a massive mastiff in the movies, but he is actually a boarhound—an old name for a Great Dane—in the books.

4–5) Little Ann and Old Dan, from Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. The K-9 power couple! This book has it all: courage, sacrifice, tragedy, unusual plant life. Is it YA? Um, maybe? I’m pretty sure Billy Coleman turns 13 by the end there. I’d reread it just to make sure but, well, remember what I was saying about tragedy?

6) Strider, in Strider by Beverly Cleary. This one is about the bond between 14-year-old Leigh Botts and a very active dog. It has a lot of classic YA “problem novel” ingredients: divorced parents, a flaky friend, a cute girl, and a shot at making the team.

7) Boo, in Stay with Me by Paul Griffin. Of course, there are two Boos in SwM. I guess we could choose between them, but why, when we can include both on a technicality? Either way, no one writes pit bulls better than Paul Griffin.

8) Black Star, in Black Star, Bright Dawn by Scott O’Dell. Eighteen-year- old Bright Dawn is going to need a lot of help to take her father’s place in the Iditarod. Fortunately, she has a heck of a lead sled-dog.

9) Grrl, in Straydog by Kathe Koja. Take a troubled teen volunteering at an animal shelter, throw in a feral collie (you heard me), add issues of trust and self-expression and you’ve got a shoo-in for this list.

10) Cracker, from Cracker! The Best Dog in Vietnam by Cynthia Kadohata. The story of nimble-nosed German shepherd Cracker and her 17-year-old military handler, Rick, both in and out of war. Think War Horse for a very different war.

Paw Trek: The Next Generation

Fictional dogs come and go—and, let’s face it, they often go tragically. But for every red fern sprouting between dog graves, there is a fresh-faced, wet-nosed hero ready to make the scene. Here’s a look at three of the stars of upcoming YA books:

Sandy Koufax, from When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney. A great name (is he left-pawed?) and, by all accounts, a great dog, Sandy is the supportive sidekick who helps Danny come to terms with a tragic loss. Puplication date: June 4.

Loki, from Dog Tags #1: Semper Fido by C. Alexander London. A little on the young side, but as a lover of both dogs and puns, I can’t resist this one. New Marine Gus Dempsey and surprisingly free-spirited bomb-sniffer, Loki, must learn to work together in Afghanistan. Pup date: May 1.

Johnny Rotten, in Rotten by yours truly. This rescued Rottweiler finally has a shot at a better future, if he can escape his rough past. The official pub date is April 1, but in true punk-rock fashion, JR has broken free and is out in many places now.

About Rotten

"A troubled teen. A rescued Rottweiler. An unlikely friendship.
Jimmer "JD" Dobbs is back in town after spending the summer "upstate." No one believes his story about visiting his aunt, and it's pretty clear that he has something to hide. It's also pretty clear that his mom made a new friend while he was away---a rescued Rottweiler that JD immediately renames Johnny Rotten (yes, after that guy in the Sex Pistols). Both tough but damaged, JD and Johnny slowly learn to trust each other, but their newfound bond is threatened by a treacherous friend and one snap of Johnny's powerful jaws. As the secrets JD has tried so hard to keep under wraps start to unravel, he suddenly has something much bigger to worry about: saving his dog."

About Michael Northrop
Michael Northrop's first young adult novel, Gentlemen, earned him a Publishers Weekly Flying Start citation, and his second, Trapped, was an Indie Next List pick and an ALA/YALSA Readers' Choice List selection. His middle-grade novel, Plunked, was named to the New York Public Library's 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing in 2012. He was a senior editor at Sports Illustrated Kids from 2000-08, and his articles and stories have been published widely.

Follow the blog tour 

1 comment:

  1. OK, this sounds absolutely fantastic! I am a huge dog lover and often find that dogs in novels are either:
    a) there to be killed off horribly (I do NOT approve)
    b) or purchased from a puppy mill (read: pet store).

    Seems like Rotten is none of those things... add in a damaged teenager, and I am SO THERE. Great post Michael!


Thank you for stopping by! We love reading your comments and we try to reply back to each comment. So make sure to check back with us.