The Grove Dogs
by Alfonso Grambone

"Alfie rested his hands behind his head as he lay in bed, staring at the ceiling, remembering the day he and Harley met."

Alfie and his friends keep losing baseballs in the scary grove behind the ball field where they play, so they decide to make a plan to get them all back. Baseballs do not come cheap, and they do not want to purchase more. At first, the friends go into the frightening grove to find all the missing summer baseballs but get chased out by a terrifying mud monster. To solve the problem, Pete builds the mud monster 3000 from parts around his mother’s house that will distract the mud monster while they get their balls back. Again the friends return to the grove ready to reclaim their missing baseballs. Instead of finding their baseballs, they find the neighborhood bully, Nick. As Nick begins harassing Alfie and his friends, the mud monster shows up and scares Nick away. Slowly, Alfie and his friends turn their attention to the mud monster, and the friends realize the mud monster is only a dirty, hungry puppy. Alfie takes the puppy home and names her Harley, and together they are very happy.

Grambone has created a delightful, engaging children’s story by combining the elements of friendship, sports, exploration, overactive minds of children, and, most importantly, the love of a pet. The author captives the minds of his young readers by building a storyline many children can relate to—their first time meeting their new pet and how their life was changed by this day. As Alfie thinks back to the day he first met Harley, children listening will relate by remembering the day they got a special friend also. By choosing a subject that is age-appropriate for his target audience, Grambone has crafted an attention-grabbing story that all children will love to hear.

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