Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Interview with Galia Oz, author of Dog Trouble



DOG TROUBLE!
by Galia Oz
Crown Books for Young Readers
144 pages
Middle Grade Contemporary
Ages 8-12




Readers who have graduated from Junie B. Jones and Ivy & Bean will fall head over heels for feisty Julie and her troublesome new dog.
 
Julie has only had her dog for two weeks, but she is already causing all sorts of problems. For starters, she is missing! Julie suspects the school bully Danny must be behind it. But it will take some detective work, the help of Julie’s friends, and maybe even her munchkin twin brothers to bring her new pet home.

Wonderfully sassy and endlessly entertaining, the escapades of Julie and her dog are just beginning!

Julie’s adventures have sold across the globe and been translated into five languages. Popular filmmaker and children’s author Galia Oz effortlessly captures the love of a girl and her dog.

"A funny exploration of schoolyard controversy and resolution.” –Kirkus Reviews 

"Will resonate with readers and have them waiting for more installments.” –Booklist  

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble


EXCERPT


My puppy, Shakshuka, disappeared. It happened when my dad was away on a business trip and my mom was in one of her worst moods ever because Max and Monty had both just had their vaccinations and they both had reactions and they didn’t sleep all night. Max and Monty—­I called them the Munchkins for short—­ were babies and twins and also my brothers, and every­ one knew that if there were two babies in the house, no one was going to pay any attention to a dog, even if she was only a baby herself.
At night, I lay awake in bed and I was cold, and I remembered that once on TV I saw pictures of a hun-gry dog that was really skinny whose family went on
a vacation and left him tied to a tree. And they said that the SPCA couldn’t take care of all the dogs that were abandoned by their families. And I thought about Shakshuka, who was gone and might be tied to a tree at that very minute, hungry and missing me.
The next morning in class, Brody told me there was no way that Shakshuka had been stolen. “No way, ­Julie!” he said. “Why would anyone bother? You could get five dogs like her, with spots and stripes, for less than ten dollars.” Or maybe he said you could get ten dogs like her for less than five dollars. Brody said things like that sometimes, but most of the time he was okay. When Max and Monty were born, he said that was it, no one at home would ever pay attention to me again, and when I cut my hair short, he said it was ugly.
I turned my back on Brody and pretended to listen to Adam. He sat at the desk next to mine and spent his whole life telling these crazy stories.
Adam said, “My father won f‑f-­fifty thousand, do you get it? In the lottery. He’s g‑going to buy me an i‑P‑P . . .” People didn’t always listen to Adam because he stuttered, and they didn’t always have the patience to
wait until he got the word out. This time Brody tried to help him finish his sentence.
“An iPod?”
“N‑not an i‑P-­Pod, you idiot. An i‑P-­Pad.”
Brody called Adam “Ad-­d-­d-­dam” because of his stutter, and because he liked to be annoying. But he was still my friend, and that was just how it was, and anyway, there were lots of kids worse than he was.
I cried about Shakshuka during morning recess and Danny laughed at me because that was Danny, that was just the way he was, and Duke also laughed, obvi-ously, because Duke was Danny’s number two. But at the time I didn’t know that they had anything to do with Shakshuka’s disappearance and kept telling my-self that maybe they were just being mean, as usual.
That Danny, everyone­ was afraid of him. And they’d have been nuts not to be. It was bad enough that he was the kind of kid who would smear your seat with glue and laugh at you when you sat down; that he and his friends would come up and offer you what looked like the tastiest muffin you’d ever seen, and when you opened your mouth to take a bite you discovered it was really a sponge. But none of that was important. The problem was, he remembered everything­ that anyone had ever done to him, and he made sure to get back at them. The day before Shakshuka disappeared, Mrs.
Brown asked us what a potter did, and Danny jumped up and said that a potter was a person who put plants in pots, but Mrs. Brown said that was not what a potter did. And then I raised my hand and said that a potter was a person who worked with clay and made pottery.
Danny, who sat right behind me, leaned forward and smacked my head, and I said, “Ow.” It wasn’t too bad, but the teacher saw him and she wrote a note he had to take home to his parents. That shouldn’t have been so bad either, but later, when school got out, he grabbed me in the yard and kicked me in the leg. I went flying and crashed into the seesaw, where I banged my other leg as well.
Danny said, “If you hadn’t said ‘Ow’ before in class, the teacher wouldn’t have given me a note. Now because of you I’m suspended. That was my third note.”
Our school had this system that every time a kid hit another kid, he got a note he had to take home to his parents, and if it happened three times his par-ents had to come to school and the kid got sent home. My mother said it was mainly a punishment for the parents, who had to miss a day of work and come to school.
I could have told on him for kicking me in the yard as well. My bag flew off my shoulder and landed right
in the middle of a puddle, and Mom was really angry at me when I got home because we had to take out all the books and leave them out to dry and we had to wash the bag. I really could have told on him, but there wouldn’t have been any point. It would just have meant another note for him, another kick for me.
Thanks but no thanks.
In the evening, when the Munchkins went to sleep, Mom took one look at me and burst out laughing and said she wished that you could buy a doll that looked just like me, with scratches on her right knee, black dirt under her fingernails, and a mosquito bite on her cheek.
“It’s not a bite, it’s a bruise,” I told her. “And any-way, who would buy a doll like that?”
“I would,” said Mom. “But what happened to you? Take a look at your legs—­how on earth . . .”
“Ow! Don’t touch.”
“You look as if you were in a fight with a tiger.” That was so close to the truth that I blurted out the whole story about what happened with Danny. And I was really sorry I did that because that was the reason Shakshuka disappeared. Mom spoke to Mrs. Brown and she must have told her I was black-­and-­blue after Danny pushed me because the next day at school Mrs. Brown took me aside and told me that I had to let her know whenever something like that happened because otherwise Danny would just keep on hitting me, and other kids too, and we had to put a stop to it. Mrs. Brown meant well, but I knew that when it came to Danny, I was on my own.
Later, at the end of the day, Danny caught me again, this time when I was right by the gate. Maybe someone saw me talking to the teacher and told him. Suddenly I was lying on the ground with my face in the dirt. I must have shouted because Danny told me to keep quiet.
Then he said, “Tell me what you told Mrs. Brown!” “Let me get up!” I yelled.
“First tell me what you told her.”
“Let me get up!” My neck was all twisted, but somehow I managed to turn to the side and I saw two first graders walking out of the building toward the gate.
Danny must have seen them too because he let me go, and when I stood up he looked at me and started
laughing, probably because of the dirt on my face, and I decided I’d had enough of this jerk. I saw red, no matter where I looked I saw red, and without think-ing about what grown-­ups always taught us—­that we shouldn’t hit back because whoever hit back would be punished just like the one who started it—­I threw a plant at him.
At the entrance to our school there was this huge plant. The nature teacher once told us that it grew so big because it always got water from this pipe that dripped down into it, and also because it was in a pro-tected corner.
It was a shame about the plant, it really was. And it didn’t even hit him. It crashed to the ground halfway between us. Then Mrs. Brown came. And without even thinking I told her that Danny knocked me down and then threw the plant at me.
“But it didn’t hit me,” I said, and I looked Danny straight in the eye to see what he’d say.
Danny said I was a liar, but Mrs. Brown took one look at my dirty clothes and she believed me. And be-cause of me he got into serious trouble. They didn’t only make his parents come to school and suspend him for a day—­after the incident with the plant they also told him he’d have to start seeing this really horrible counselor every Wednesday. The kids who knew him said his office stunk of cigarettes and he was a real bore.
That was why Danny found a way to get back at me. He said, “Just you wait.” That was exactly what he said: “Just you wait.” And I did wait because I knew him. But Shakshuka didn’t wait and she couldn’t have known how to wait for what ended up happening to her.



INTERVIEW

Welcome to Bookworm for Kids, Galia! What an interesting background you have.  

Did studying film and television help strengthen your writing skills?

Of course, studying film was a huge advantage, but it was the practical work – directing four documentary films for television – that was truly significant. As a documentary director, I had to become a storyteller; Every decision, even such as where to place the camera, can significantly affect the plot. The editing process is a good lesson for every writer: It taught me how dramatic the connection between opposite elements can be, and how to cut at the right moment, and especially the power of minimalism.


Dog Trouble has quite an interesting background as well. It’s an award winning series that was published in France, Spain and Brazil and ended up in the U.S. by Crown Books (Random House). Was that a shock that one of the major U.S. publishers accepted your book and what do you believe they saw in your book that made them want it?

Random House's choice to publish the Dog Trouble series was a great honor for me, and I am grateful to my editor Phoebe Yeh for trusting in a writer that no one has ever heard of in the States. I can only hope that she found in the book the same qualities critiques on the other side of the globe did: joy of life, honesty, and the sense that the text speaks directly to the child's soul and not over his head. And humor, of course! How amazing it is that humor is not always lost in translation.


Your series is based around dogs. Do you have any?

Of course, I have a 17-year-old dog who now has trouble getting up the stairs, and everyone in the house is crazy about him. My kids who are now in their early twenties come to visit and still cuddle him. He was always there for them, in their childhood. What a privilege it is for a child to grow up in a house with a dog. A dog is a teacher of love and empathy. I also have a cat. But cats teach you other things about life…


Which book in the series do you consider the best?

The fifth and final book in the series, The Great Lemon Robbery is in my opinion the best, and is also closest to my heart in terms of the themes it deals with. But it has yet to be published in the States.


Will there be more in the series in the future?

The Dog Trouble story of a group of children and a dog told from the perspective of Julie, its central character, has come to an end. But a few months ago, a new book of mine was published in Israel. It tells the story of Mikey, a child growing up in a less than desirable home situation who tries to save himself through friendship with a girl from a very different background. He isn’t much of a talker and has behavioral problems, and she, on the other hand, is eloquent and reads books, and on the surface they share little in common. By the way, in this book dogs are also given a place of honor.




And here she is. . .


Galia Oz was born in Kibbutz Hulda, Israel, in 1964. She studied film and Television in Tel Aviv University 1984-87.

Her award winning series of 5 books titled DOG TROUBLE was published in France, Spain and Brazil – and recently in the US by CROWN BOOKS Random House. The series is a steady seller in Israel for over 10 years (selling over 150,000 copies). 

Oz has directed several documentaries, all screened in international film festivals, and in Israeli leading television channels.

Over the years, Galia Oz has been meeting thousands of readers in Israeli elementary schools, and taught creative writing and classic children's literature to kids in public libraries.

Galia Oz is married and has two kids, a dog and a cat, and they all live in Ramat Hasharon, just outside Tel-Aviv.



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