Title: Hound Dog True
Author: Linda Urban
ISBN: 9780547558691
Pages: 152 pages
Publisher/Date: Harcourt Children’s Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, c2011.

It is Principal Bonnet who finally helps him. Answers his cell phone call and comes to the rescue. Helps him to his feet and out of the administrative office.
Principal Bonnet who comes back for Mattie, too, knocking gently on her own office door before she opens it.
“I’m sorry,” Mattie says.
“He’ll be okay,” Principal Bonnet. […]
A doctor. Uncle Potluck needs to go to a doctor. Mattie had been picturing him in Authorized Personnel wrapping his traitorous knee with electrical tape. But Uncle Potluck can’t fix what Mattie has done to him. He needs a doctor. (88-89)

Mattie’s mother always says that “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” So that’s what Mattie and her mother are doing. They get going to visit Mattie’s uncle, moving back into the house Mattie’s mother grew up in. Uncle Potluck serves as the janitor at Mattie’s new school, her fourth one in four years. Instead of once again trying to introduce herself and make new friends, Mattie has a different plan in mind. If she proves that she’s useful to Uncle Potluck during this week before school gets out, maybe he’ll let her be a Janitorial Assistant, and she can avoid the lunch room and recess rush. But things don’t go as planned for shy Mattie.

I was really looking forward to this book, having enjoyed A Crooked Kind of Perfect so much. But this book was a painfully slow read. For a book that only takes place over the span of a week, I thought there would be a little more action. I realize janitor’s days aren’t all that glamorous, especially since they’re working in a mostly closed school that hasn’t officially opened yet. That being said, I still thought there would be more.

Mattie is painfully shy, not speaking up to her mother, not to prospective friend and neighbor Quincy Sweet, and not to former teachers and classmates as we see in a tiny flashback sequence. Even when she realizes that someone has been reading her notebook without her permission, she doesn’t flip out, doesn’t yell, doesn’t really react in any way. She’s very introverted, and maybe it’s because I’m such an extroverted person myself, but I had a hard time relating to her. Besides, what middle schooler is going to want to be the janitor anyways? When I was in school, janitors/custodians were looked down upon and were in the same level as garbagemen, lunch monitors/cafeteria ladies, and the “do you want fries with that” guy at McDonalds.

Overall, this just didn’t live up to my expectations.

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