No Dog Food, Please!

Children - Animals
333 Pages
Reviewed on 02/11/2024
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Author Biography

I am a retired reading and special education teacher who enjoys writing books for children and young adults. I have written three books so far - a YA novelette, a children's chapter book, and a children's novel, No Dog Food, Please! The novel began as a poem inspired by my dogs. It evolved into a book focusing on the lives of a dog named Jack and a boy named Ben, both of whom were recently adopted by a farm family living in New York. The book incorporates many interesting and important aspects of life, including the adoption of children and pets, sibling relationships, the challenges of living with an aging grandparent who is becoming more forgetful, differences of opinion in multigenerational families, and the joys and difficulties of running a small farm. Life lessons are an integral part of the story. I enjoy creating educational materials, and I have written a Teacher's Guide to accompany this novel. It is provided as a free resource for schoolteachers and parents who are homeschooling their children. Included in the Guide are aims/objectives, questions to consider for each chapter, class activities, worksheets, and graphic organizers. The Guide can be downloaded on the following website, and all pages may be reproduced for use by students:

    Book Review

Reviewed by Rich Follett for Readers' Favorite

No Dog Food, Please! by Linda Costarella is a heartwarming and profoundly educational narrative for young people, told from the point of view of its central character, Jack – a yellow Labrador Retriever transplanted from his Florida home to a farm in upstate New York. Jack’s perceptions of the world around him are refreshingly uncomplicated, making them a perfect match for young readers, whose emotions and perspectives are similarly pure and unfiltered. The author conveys Jack’s story in simple sentences and straightforward language perfectly suited to emerging readers, yet never steers away from addressing complex issues such as death, loss, hardship, aging and infirmity, belonging, family dynamics, and life-altering events with wisdom, grace, and compassion. No Dog Food, Please! is an invaluable primer for young people seeking to understand and embrace life, love, and the inevitability of change.

Jack’s adoptive family has Costa Rican heritage; hence, the narrative is generously peppered with Spanish words and phrases, worked into the text with natural ease and supported by surrounding contextual clues – the result being that the narrative flows seamlessly and young readers will get the added benefit of language acquisition. If, by chance, the context clues do not offer sufficient support, the author includes a glossary at the end of the book to clarify when necessary. In addition, the text is enhanced with beguiling photographs that will help readers feel personally connected to the characters. Last, a list of educationally astute discussion questions ensures that readers will experience maximum benefit from the many lessons this book has to offer. No Dog Food, Please! by Linda Costarella ranges beyond simple entertainment or diversion into the territory of essential life lessons and, as such, becomes an important work with the potential to span generations.

Pikasho Deka

Immerse yourself in an uplifting tale of an adopted dog with Dr. Linda Costarella's No Dog Food, Please! Jack is a Labrador Retriever who has recently moved in with the Fernandez family on their farm in New York, far from the hustle and bustle of city life. But he still misses his old master, Jimmy. Jack soon becomes an integral part of the Fernandez family, which consists of the parents, Miguel and Isabel Fernandez, their daughters Melanie and Lily, and their adopted son, Ben. There are also the grandparents and an adorable little Chihuahua named Angelica. To Jack's chagrin, Grandpa wants him to sleep in the barn, and Jack still doesn't like dog food. However, after an unfortunate accident, Grandpa makes a wheelchair for Angelica, and slowly he begins to accept Jack's presence inside the house.

No Dog Food, Please! is a wholesome story about a dog adapting to life on a farm with his new family. Dr. Linda Costarella beautifully captures the psyche of a dog in a new environment and weaves a heartwarming yarn about found family. Narrated from Jack's perspective, the story enables readers to see things play out the way dogs observe their surroundings, and it makes for a unique reading experience that is both enriching and entertaining. The characters are lively, especially the kids and Grandpa, and Costarella's vivid descriptions make the setting feel real. I found Ben's relationship with Jack adorable, and the scenes featuring the two together were a joy to read. This book will help children develop love and compassion for animals at a young age. As someone with three loving pets, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and can't recommend it highly enough.

Doreen Chombu

In No Dog Food, Please! by Dr. Linda Costarella, we follow the story of Jack, a yellow Labrador Retriever, who is introduced to his new family consisting of Miguel, his wife Isabel, and their daughters Melanie and Lily. Jack has a hard time adjusting to his new home on the farm, but as he spends more time with his new family, he starts to love it. However, he misses his old master and is not a fan of the dog food they serve him. Despite his initial struggles, Jack is fascinated by snow and the animals on the farm and enjoys the company of Ben, another new addition to the family. Melanie and Lily love to dress him up and sing and Angelica, the Chihuahua, becomes his friend. Even Grandpa is initially grumpy and set in his ways, but gradually warms up to Jack, and they learn to rely on each other. Join Jack on his journey as he finds joy and love in his new life on the farm with his new family.

No Dog Food, Please! is a heartwarming story that showcases the power of family and unconditional love. Dr. Linda Costarella narrates the story from Jack's point of view, providing readers with a unique perspective on how a dog adjusts to a new family and lifestyle. The book covers many topics such as adoption, immigrants, death, and military life. The characters are fun-loving and have unique personalities. There are several lessons that both children and adults can learn from these characters, and readers will enjoy getting to know them. The highlight of the book is the beautiful pictures that depict the characters and the farm animals, which perfectly correspond with the story, making it visually appealing. The interactive questions and glossary at the end are also great additions. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves reading about farm life and family drama.