La La in the Library and I buddy read this book for our Dog Days of Summer Reading Challenge. We each thought up some questions to answer about the book. Be sure to check out her review and answers HERE.
Mike is eleven-year-old Caera Donovan’s dog, and they love each other absolutely. Usually her pet follows Caera everywhere, but on the day the family first smells smoke in the air, Mike becomes anxious. Pine Grove is in the path of a wildfire, and the family is ordered to evacuate. In the ensuing chaos, Mike runs off. And then the unthinkable happens; there is no time to search for Mike. They are forced to leave him behind.
This was the first book I have read by this author and I absolutely loved it! The imagery was fantastic. Being from Iowa, I don’t have any experience with forest fires but the author describes it so vividly. The descriptions of the heat and smell of the wildfire made feel like I was there. The book is beautifully written in verse which I think is perfect for middle grade. My favorite things about this book is one, the family got Mike from a shelter. Two, even during a crisis, the main character, Caera, volunteers to help other people displaced because of the fires. And three, I loved the theme of family and the feeling of being home even when you can’t be home and what that means to different people. This was brought up several times during the story and was cleverly done by it being talked about with Caera and the different people she meets at the crisis center.
1. Do you read many Middle Grade books?
No, not many. Maybe five a year but my nieces are going into middle school soon so I need to read more MG books so I can recommend some to them.
2. Have you read other books written in verse? Did you like them?
Yes and Yes. My favorite was Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson.
3. There was a push several years ago to publish more MG and YA books featuring broken and troubled families so there were books for kids living in similar situations to relate to, but recently there has been a call for more stories with stable families because children need to also read about families who are thriving, to show it is possible. This story’s MC had a solid family unit. What do you think about this?
To be honest I didn’t think much about it at all. There was another character that came from a broken home and she still felt loved which I think is the most important thing.
4. Missing Mike had both happiness and sadness in the ending. Do you think Middle Grade books should at least have one positive occurrence/experience in the conclusion because the books are for 7-11 years old?
Yes, because I think at this age and with all the distractions of technology out there, it is important to get kids to read and so having a happy ending helps with that goal. I remember be traumatized by the book Bridge to Terebithia. It didn’t stop me reading but I was more careful about what books I read.
5. The family has to leave their home suddenly and only take the essentials. What would you grab that you couldn’t live without?
I would grab my kids’ baby books because I don’t have digital copies of their baby pictures.
6. Have you ever been in an emergency situation similar to the one in the book?
I have never had to evacuate my house. We get tornadoes here in Iowa so I have had to go hide in our basement a few times. In 2010, a tornado wiped out houses just a mile away from me.
7. The main character in the book helps out at the shelter where they are staying during the evacuation. Have you ever helped out in an emergency situation?
Last summer, the dog rescue I volunteer at took in a bunch of dogs from Houston, Texas when the city was flooding. I went and helped walk and play with dogs when they arrived.
8. The main character can’t find her dog, Mike, before they leave. Would you leave your pets in an emergency?
Only as a last resort. I wouldn’t endanger my family by sticking around to keep looking. Animals have that instinct to survive so I think they would find a safe place until we could look for them again.
9. Have you ever lost a pet?
Yes. For about 5 years we had backyard chickens. One day one of the younger chickens, Penelope, got spooked by a visiting dog and flew over our fence and was gone. My daughter made signs “Lost Chicken” and put them up around the neighborhood as we searched all over for her. (I promise I am not making this up!) The next day still no chicken. I googled “how to call a chicken” and it said to make chicken noises and get any other chickens from the flock to make noise, so of course I did. I am not kidding, but 5 minutes later, Penelope came strutting across the road to our yard and went into the coop. I think she hid in a pine tree for the night across the street. So that answers the question, Why did the chicken cross the road?
10. One of the themes of the book is the feeling of home and how it is different for everyone. What does feeling at home mean to you?
I feel most at home when my family and I are all around the dinner table. It doesn’t matter if we are eating, talking, playing cards, or playing a game just being together at the table for some reason makes me feel at home.