HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Puppy Diaries: Raising a Dog Named Scout
Author: Jill Abramson
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company, 2011
ISBN-13: 978-0-8050-9342-1 (hardback)
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 13 and up
Rating: 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Abramson, Jill. The Puppy Diaries: Raising a Dog Named Scout (published in 2011 by Times Books, a division of Henry Holt and Company LLC, 175 Fifth Ave., New York City, NY 10010). What can people expect when a new puppy enters their lives? Author Jill Abramson and her husband Henry (L. Griggs III) welcomed a nine-week-old British golden retriever which they named Scout into their home and hearts. This book is an instructive and entertaining chronicle about their raising of the new addition over the next year, with all the joys and challenges of training a rambunctious canine. Chapter one tells about the Abramson’s previous dog, a Westie named Buddy, his death, Jill’s accident in which she was hit by a truck, and the decision to get a new dog during her convalescence. Succeeding chapters relate how Scout was obtained, the dog’s early training, bringing her from their farm in Connecticut to their apartment in New York City, a serious illness that she underwent, and her adolescence, leading up to the final chapter describing her arrival to adulthood.
While an undergraduate, Abramson was the Arts Editor of The Harvard Independent, and worked at Time magazine from 1973 to 1976. Subsequently, she spent nearly a decade as a senior staff reporter for The American Lawyer. In 1986, she was appointed as editor in chief of Legal Times in Washington, D.C., serving for two years. From 1988 to 1997, she worked as a senior reporter in the Washington bureau of The Wall Street Journal, eventually rising to deputy bureau chief, then moved to The New York Times in 1997 where she served as the chief of Washington bureau, eventually relocating from Virginia to New York City. On June 2, 2011, it was announced that Abramson would become the executive editor of the Times in September, 2011. The Puppy Diaries, which is said to be “part memoir, part manual, part investigative report,” began as a series of hugely popular columns for the New York Times’s Web site but goes beyond the material of Abramson’s column to give a detailed and personal account of Scout’s first year.
There is really nothing overtly objectionable in the book, but parents who are thinking of letting their dog-loving children read it might like to know a few things ahead of time. The language is not bad, except for a few common euphemisms and the requisite references to dog “pee” and “poop.” Many parents will have no trouble with those terms, but we prefer not to use them in our home. A slang term relating to dog mating practices is found. Some instances of drinking beer and cocktails occur. A little “animal rights” thinking and a reference to possible evolutionary developments in dogs are mentioned. And a couple of rather obscure statements, one which gives the possible impression that Abramson’s son “Will and his girlfriend, Lindsey” might have been living together, and the other about a good female friend of Jill’s and fellow-dog lover named Lee and “Lee’s partner, Deb,” could raise some questions. Otherwise, this is an interesting and informative story, which is also available as an unabridged audiobook from Macmillan Audio.