Guinea Dog by Patrick Jennings Age: 8-12 Genre: Fiction, Animals Publisher: Egmont, 2010 ISBN: 9781606840535, 183 pages Find this book at your local library
All Rufus wants for a pet is a dog. Not a cat, not a hamster, but a tail-wagging, drooling dog. When his stay-at-home/clean-freak dad puts his foot down against dogs, Rufus’ mom tries to play mediator by brining home a guinea pig. Only this guinea pig isn’t ordinary by any means. This guinea pig acts like and thinks she is a real dog. Now Rufus has to keep an eye on his adventurous pet, deal with kids at school, and manage his parents at home. Can he juggle it all, when he didn’t even want a guinea pig in the first place?
By all accounts, I had hoped this book would be awesome. I love guinea pigs being my primary criteria for having selected this title. I think I may have gotten my hopes up a little too high, because this book fell short for a number of reasons. I don’t want to say it’s poorly written, it is an engaging read and I think reluctant male readers will be able to enjoy this book for all its different themes. I just think the book didn’t live up to its potential. There is very little depth to any of the characters, all of which are predictable and 2-dimensional. There is definitely a fantasy element that is lightly touched on with the guinea pig that can run as fast as a skateboard, play tug-of-war with a fully grown black lab, and can easily hop onto and off of a bed. None of which are normal guinea pig traits. There is also the issue of the mysterious petshop, Petopia, that disappears after Rufus’ mom brings home Fido, the guinea pig.
I think this book would make for a really fun animated movie, or even a cartoon show. I would recommend this as a transitional books between the easy readers and the larger chapter books. I’d place this book at a 2nd grade level, which is a little below the recommended age level of 8-12 in the book. The author does use a few big words, but with a little help from a parent or teacher, younger readers will have no problems completing this book on their own.