Friday, October 13, 2017

Dog Trouble Blog Tour

About the Book:
Dog Trouble

Title: DOG TROUBLE! | Author: Galia Oz | Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers | Pages: 144 | Genre: Children's book for young readers, 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



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 everyone 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 hungry 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, obviously, 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 myself 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 parents 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 anyway, 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 thinking 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 protected 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 because 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.

About the Author:
Galia Oz

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.

Visit her Facebook page

Why you need integrity to write children’s literature
and why Julie’s cat is evil – by Galia Oz

Creating a living and breathing story and building a complete, convincing, three-dimensional world around it; portraying rounded and thought-out characters; writing without it seeming like you are trying too hard; writing a story that seems to have always existed but never put to paper.

How does one do that? My first answer: I have no idea. I can recognize beauty when I see it, but I don’t believe in a magic formula. I only know how to try to write well. My second answer: You need to have talent to write well, but that’s not enough; you must have integrity.

About ten years ago, I published a short children’s book in Israel about a group of kids, written entirely from the perspective of Julie, the owner of Shakshuka, a little dog with big adventures. The book quickly became a series that has sold 150,000 copies thus far, and has been translated and published in France, Spain and Brazil. The first three books in the series were recently published in the United States as one book, under the title Dog Trouble.

I'm not sure I was able to do half of the things I mentioned in the first paragraph. If only... At any rate, I hope I write with integrity. In other words, the protagonists of my books are not perfect in any way: Julie is jealous of the new popular girl who recently arrived at her school; insecure Effie is jealous of almost everybody; cynical Brody mocks Adam's stutter; Danny is a bit violent at first, although the conflict between him and the other children takes on more a sophisticated form later in the series; and even the cat adopted by Julie’s is described as ‘a really evil cat.’

And yet Julie and her friends are brimming with joie de vivre and drive, and a sense of confidence that allows them to be playful and inventive and imaginative. They thrive in an imperfect world with evil cats – which means they can come to terms with problems that don’t necessarily have an immediate solution.

True, there is also hostility. Many times, hostility exists alongside with love. Anyone who thinks it is possible to raise children in an environment free of hostility or conflict is simply lying to themselves. You cannot spare children pain; you can only spare them literary representations of it.

Here, I return to the second answer I gave to the question: Integrity. Integrity is vital not only for a writer who hopes to establish a three-dimensional reality in his writing but also for the children reading it. Otherwise, in the name of political correctness, children are told that someone who behaves well will always be rewarded, that the wicked are always punished, and that the rejected will without a doubt have some sort of curative experience. There is no limit to the manipulative practices of well-intentioned adults in children's literature. There is an underlying desire to “improve” the child, to socialize him, to impart a life lesson, to hide and protect him from the real world.

The point is children have an inbuilt lie detector. When you try to sell them a sermon dressed as a story, they shut down emotionally. They may enjoy the plot, but the moral will pass right over their heads.

In short, children understand nuance. They are able to empathize with complex characters rather than with saintly, stock characters. Simplistic messages and manipulation are an insult to their intelligence. When children are exposed to quality literature, they are likely to grow up to read quality literature. And most importantly: beauty has value in and of itself, and children, just like everyone else, have the right to enjoy it. Just as they have the right to read of evil cats without someone jumping to their defense.

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