Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Review + Author Interview: Dog Gone Dinky by Cynthia Port (Children's, 9 years +, 10E/10E)

April 2014, Smashwords, 221 pages, Ebook, Review copy

Themes: talking to animals, dirt, teen crush, artistic talents, getting carried away by power, loose teeth, weirdos, making friends,
Content: Lots of humour, a few heart wrenching moments

Book blurb
Secrets will be revealed! Fondest wishes will be fulfilled! Permacrud will be . . . what the heck is permacrud, anyway? Find out in Dog Gone Dinky, the second book in the hilarious Kibble Talk series. Tawny and Jenny, along with their dogs Dinky and Gunner, have set themselves on a mission - or really, three missions. Gunner just wants to be clean, but it’s not as easy as it seems. Jenny is determined to find out the secret to Kibble Talking, and she’s prepared to feed kibble to the whole fourth grade if need be. Tawny wants a little brother or sister to make her family complete. But there’s someone else with a fondest wish, and they’ll do anything to get it. Can Dinky save the day before he becomes a dog goner?

Nayuleska's thoughts
Given how much I loved book one (see suggested reads) I fully expected to love this latest read in the Kibble Talk series, and I did! It had that second book magic in knowing most of the characters so it felt like I was reading about friends (the villain isn't a friend, obviously). Fritz is quite a character. I had to give him credit for doing everything full heartedly, at times he was a bit too weird, but he mellows out towards the end of the story.

I love the concept of what was wrong with Gunner-especially as Jenny and Tawny never let him finish his explanation. The best friends' attempts to get Gunner clean had me giggling away. The laugh a minute story got pretty tense towards the end, definitely more dangerous than the dog show in book 1. I got teary over several parts because Tawny's home life was pretty emotional, and the anguish and frustration about the situation was clear. I hope there is a 3rd book as I want to see more about the new addition to the family! 

All the dog talking is useful (sometimes), funny (a lot of the time), and dull (never). Everyone who is a kibble talker learns more about how to treat others by listening to their four legged friends-readers can learn about kindness and crazy world domination seeking psychos from this fun tail! Trust me when I say you don't want to try cat biscuits....yes I tried one, it was okay but I'll stick with human food for sure!

Suggested read
You have to read book 1, Kibble Talk, where it all began. (Children's, 9 years +, 10E/10E)

Author Interview with Cynthia Port

I'd like to  blame being a bit too enthusiastic about waiting for my birthday cake for not including this email when the review first went up, but I simply forgot about it. It is honestly a great pleasure getting to know a bit more about the books with Cynthia, who is a sweetheart in many ways, including being extremely patient when I forget such things ^o^ Thanks Cynthia for writing a hilarious series that I want to reread a lot!

Nayu: 1) Readers got a hint of Gunner's problem in Kibble Talk, but it only really gets tackled in Dog Gone Dinky. Did you ever think about making Jenny the one who could Kibble talk instead of Tawny, and Gunner as the main dog instead of Dinky?

Cynthia: A book centering on Jenny could be quite a whirlwind, but as a character she might be difficult for most kids to relate to.  She’s the best friend we all wish we had (unless we are lucky enough to have one) who says and does all the things we are afraid to do – hard talking, ruthless, but loyal and true.  No worries, though – readers will get plenty of Jenny in Book 3.  She’s so much fun to write!

Nayu: 2) It must be said that in Dog Gone Dinky Dinky has lots of things to say but neither Tawny nor Jenny want to hear it as they are too busy trying to sort Gunner out or deal with their own rather large problems. Where did you get the idea that Dinky would know the answer to the problem, but somehow it would never ever get talked about until the end? It worked great as a plot and made me smile every time someone else talked louder than Dinky, who you'd think would be able to grab their attention seeing as he is rather large.

Cynthia: Dinky not only knows everything that every person or dog has ever known, he can also read minds!  A character like that is hard to have around if you want to write anything longer than a one chapter book, because he will immediately know the solution to every problem.  In every scene I write, I have to think carefully about whether or not Dinky will be present, and how his presence might force the plot forward.

3) I think in some ways Dog Gone Dinky is ever so slightly better than Kibble Talk because I already know most of the characters so have an investment in them. Add in the powerful topic of Tawny's parents wanting to adopt a child and what appears a simple tail (typo deliberate) of getting Gunner clean turns into an emotional rollercoaster looking at how adoption works. What made you want to include this crucial part of the story?

Cynthia: I'm so glad you liked Dog Gone Dinky so much - I'm a little partial to it myself.  ;)  

As to the adoption storyline, I have personal experience with this topic – write what you know, right?  Second, Tawny needed an important problem – a dream to fulfill.  The fact that the problem related to her whole family was a plus for me, because so often child characters are focused on an outside problem (solve the mystery of the stolen priceless whatsit, escape from whatever fantasy world they’ve fallen into, etc.), when in real life, kids problems are almost always family problems. 

Nayu 4) So, it has to be asked. Can you give us a hint of what might be in the forthcoming book 3? Will we see Tawny's brother Kibble Talk despite being under 9 years old? Maybe he could be a Kibble Talking genius.... (Yes I might be too attached to seeing him understand Dinky too.

Cynthia: Book three will have all our favorite main characters, plus introduce two more – one of which is Tawny’s little brother.  Other than that bit of a spoiler, just know that disasters will be narrowly averted and hilarity will ensue!

Nayu 5) Where's your favourite place to write, and what do you like to eat/drink while writing?

Cynthia: My favorite place would be a beach in Mexico or Thailand or some such, but mostly I write in my little home office where the snacks are close by and my cat interrupts me constantly. I drink a lot of tea whether I'm writing or not.  My main snacks are nuts and berries (I’m gluten free and vegan), which I wash down with generous amounts of dark chocolate.

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