Sunday, January 28, 2024

Today's read... Claude and Medea: The Hellburn Dogs by Zoe Weil

Today's read should slide into adventure and address some important themes.  I'll admit that I'm not really sure what to expect but was drawn by the promise of a strange teacher, criminals, and friendship. Okay, the two dogs on the cover might have piqued my interest, too. I'm going to settle down by my fireplace (while it is definitely warmer than last week, the rain is never-ending today) and see what these pages hold

The Hellburn Dogs
by Zoe Weil
Lantern Publishing & Media
Middle Grade Contemporary
118 pages
ages 8 to 12

Claude and Medea aren’t expecting an odd substitute teacher to change their lives. Nor are they anticipating the dangerous adventure in store for them. They seem like normal kids. But are they? Claude has famous parents and sticks to the rules. Medea’s got a scholarship to a fancy private school and can’t get in trouble. How is it that they are thrown together, trying to outsmart Manhattan criminals? And why do they care so much about the weird Ms. Rattlebee? Find out what makes this unlikely pair begin to view the world differently, and to risk everything.



After balancing on the edge of science fiction, this read dives into adventure, heroism, and making the world a better place.

Claude and Medea are in the same class but don't have anything to do with each other. When a strange substitute teacher enters the classroom, not only are surprises guaranteed but her words pack food-for-thought. Both Claude and Medea find themselves more touched by the words than most of their classmates. This heads into an unexpected friendship. Despite the secrets each wants to hide, walls drop when they run across a situation, they can't ignore. Soon, Claude and Medea are working together to solve a crime, which will take more than just a few good intentions to crack.

While this read is short, it is jammed full. It starts with Claude, letting his life and personality gain footing with the reader before the odd teacher steps in. Then, Medea gets her chance to shine, although this takes a bit more time. Told in third person, both characters gain depth and personality, and both are easy to root for. It's inspiring to watch how their two, very-different worlds meld together in time to the growing tension of the plot. It makes for a nice balance and keeps the story interesting the entire way through.

Claude and Medea might have to work together to catch a dangerous criminal, but the tension and excitement rotating around that plot-string is only one layer of the tale. The author begins with the strange teacher, who almost tips things into science fiction but shifts into another direction and hits themes surrounding the environment, kindness, and dealing with the world around us. Just when it starts sinking heavily into pointed messages, it shifts again. In some ways, it left a few strings feeling if casting a wide net to hit many aspects. Still, the increasing pace pushes through and makes it hard to put the read down.

Summed up, this tale hits a huge span of modern concerns, sows seeds of thought, adds a bit of humor, and heads into adventure with tension, too. And all of that in a concise page amount, which won't scare more reluctant readers away.

And here she is...

Zoe Weil (pronounced “Zoh While”) is the co-founder and president of the Institute for Humane Education (IHE) and is considered a pioneer in the comprehensive humane education movement. Zoe created IHE’s M.Ed., M.A., and graduate certificate programs, as well as IHE’s Solutionary Framework, which guides teachers in bringing solutionary thinking and action to their students.

No comments: