If you’re a regular reader of this blog (heck, even if this is your first ever visit to my website) you know I love dogs. I don’t own a dog (YET!), but I adore them, which is why I eagerly snapped up an ARC of Heidi Lang’s latest middle grade novel, RULES OF THE RUFF. It has everything I love in a middle grade book – family drama, friendships, a yearning for something just out of reach, and a bit of a mystery. Plus, it has dogs. Lots and lots of dogs!
Twelve-year-old Jessie is in for a long summer at her aunt and uncle’s house. Her cousin Ann has a snotty new best friend, which leaves Jessie all alone. But Jessie is industrious, and—not content with being ignored all summer—she convinces Wes, a grouchy neighborhood dog walker, to take her on as his apprentice.
Sure, dog walking turns out to be harder than she expected, but she has Wes’s dog-walking code, the Rules of the Ruff, to guide her, and soon she’s wrangling her very own pack. But when a charismatic rival dog walker moves to town, she quickly snatches up most of Wes’s business—and Jessie decides she isn’t going to take this defeat with her tail between her legs.
Such a fun book! Smart and funny in all the best ways – with a character who doesn’t always do the right thing, but is so easy to root for you can’t help but going along for the ride (or, in this case, the walk). Rules of the Ruff is a realistic look at how sometimes good intentions can lead you astray and how even the worst people may be better than you think.
- A pitch-perfect age-appropriate sort-of romance. Kinda.
- A easy-to-relate to main character who is far from perfect.
- Dogs! Lots of dogs!
- Some subtle lessons on growing up taught through dog-walking rules.
- Complicated family and friend relationships that will prove to be good conversation starters.
- Good descriptions of what’s required to be a responsible pet owner from the eyes of a kid.
RULES OF THE RUFF is available now. You can pick up a copy online or at your nearest independent bookseller.
You can learn more about Heidi’s other middle grade books by checking out an interview I did with her and her writing partner here.