Summary: Rules of the Ruff
In this slice-of-life middle grade novel, we follow twelve-year-old Jessie who’s staying at her cousin, Ann’s for the summer. Jessie and Ann have grown apart since Ann became friends with a popular girl. Jessie throws herself into trying to score a dog-walking apprenticeship with a grumpy dog-walker, Wes. Things are going well until a new dog-walker moves into town. Jessie’s also dealing with a crush on a new boy in town and of course her nemesis, Ann’s friend.
Rules of the Ruff is a really smart novel with a quick-witted protagonist. There are also a lot of interesting family dynamics between Jessie, her dad, her aunt, and cousin. The dog-walking antics are funny and vividly written.
I enjoyed watching Jessie work through her emotions as well as process the morals of seeking revenge. Best of all, dog lovers will enjoy learning the rules of the ruff and seeing Jessie wrangle her pack.
Jessie’s relationship with Wes was at times uncomfortable for me. I wouldn’t want my twelve-year-old niece hanging out unsupervised with an older man. I also thought there was a lot of adult drama for a middle-grade book. Between Wes’s love triangle and the dog-walker competition drama, it felt like a lot. I also was not a fan of Max’s relationship with either of the girls. Just a bit too heavy on the creepy note for me.
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Overall: Rules of the Ruff
I liked this one; the audio narration is also really good. Rules of the Ruff is perfect for active kids, dog lovers, and kids bridging the gap between childhood and teenage-hood. I only wish it featured less problematic relationships among kids and between kids and adults
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Have you read this book or anything by Heidi Lang? What did you think? What are your favorite dog-centered books? I’d love to know!
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