Saturday, January 24, 2015

Jean BookNerd Blog Tour, Guest Post, & Giveaway: Honey The Dixie Dingo Dog (Allen Paul)

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Bestselling and award-winning author Allen Paul has created an endearing character in Honey, a swamp dog who gets rescued at the moment she's about to get shot. Taken to live at Banbury Cross Farm with other rescued Dixie Dingos, her quick cuts and darting turns soon draw notice; she's then trained for agility championships, the most popular of all canine sports. From the start, Honey forms a deep bond with Miss Jane, who saved her in the nick of time. Her trainer is Ace, a worldly wise black man who manages the farm's kennel. Honey forms another deep bond with Miss Jane's partner, Mr. Billy, a skilled horseman who delights Honey by quoting famous rhymes.

The story is told by Honey in a charming southern voice. She's just turned one (equal to a 10-year-old girl or boy) when the story begins. At its center is a haunting mystery: Why are swamp critters turning up dead with a wild look in the eye? Many believe a big coyote named Geronimo scares them to death. When two dead dingo pups are found, Honey becomes convinced that her pack, which is still in the swamp, could be next. Somehow she has to get them out. The plot thickens when several small pets get killed in the nearby town. Rewards are posted and a group led by the trapper Topper Guy, who nearly shot Honey, head for the swamp. Twelve innocent dingos mistaken for coyotes get shot. Miss Jane confronts Topper Guy and demands that the killings stop. The upshot is a high stakes bet: Topper Guy wagers his guns against Miss Jane's favorite horse that Honey won't win at the Sportsman's Championship. How Honey fares in that contest, and how the mystery killer gets caught, make for a thrilling read that kids at heart of all ages will love.

In the end, Honey learns an unforgettable lesson that her pack, which now includes humans, comes first. Based on a true story, this book will appeal to middle grade readers and adults. On July 17, 2013 a front-page article in the New York Times cited new genetic evidence suggesting that the Dixie Dingo (registered as the Carolina Dog) is the oldest breed in North America, predating European settlement by many centuries. They were Native American camp dogs but are not related to the Australian dingos. Many Dixie Dingos still live in southern swamps. With their antenna-like ears and muscular build, their look is quite distinctive. Dixie Dingos are excellent pets who form deep bonds with humans.

Allen   Paul
Allen began his career as a reporter with the Associated Press in Raleigh, NC. Later, he wrote speeches in Washington for a congressional committee chairman, a member of the president’s cabinet and the chairman of one presidential campaign. He was in Poland gathering material for his first book when the Berlin Wall fell. That book – Katyn: Stalin’s Massacre and the Triumph of Truth – became a bestseller in Eastern Europe. It earned warm praised from the New York Times, the Washington Post, New York Review of Books and many other media outlets.
He was a Fulbright Fellow in Poland in 2010-11 and collected material there for a novel based on a daring mission of the Polish underground at the end of World War Two. It will be published in 2015.

His first book for younger readers (middle grade) was inspired by his own dog, Honey, whose breed – the Dixie Dingo – is probably the oldest in North America.
Allen holds a B.A. degree in English with a minor in History from Guilford College, and a Masters of International Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University. He and his wife, Betsy, live in Raleigh and have two grown children.

What fiction most influenced your childhood, and what effect did those stories have on Honey the Dixie Dingo Dog?

My mother read to me nearly every night when I was growing up. She was a great fan of Kipling and the “Jungle Book.” For some reason I can remember very vividly a Kipling character saying there is “no nagging” in the jungle. Punishment was meted out to those who did wrong, but it wiped the slate clean – in other words no nagging occurred once an animal had been punished.

My parents were devoted to the principle of “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” I remember well how my mother punished: She’d go to the tall hedge in our backyard and break off a switch. As she walked back to the house, she stripped the leaves from the switch. She would switch my legs (I wore shorts through the third grade) several times which hurt enough to make me cry out. When she finished she always said, “Enough’s enough; there’ll be no nagging in the jungle.” It made quite an impression, but not enough to keep me from earning a few more switches in a week or two.

In my teen years I read the Jungle Book on my own. I assumed that the voice of authority would loom large in the background. Much to my surprise its theme turned out to be “live and let live,” a philosophy that stayed with me from then on. When I was planning the outline for “Honey the Dixie Dingo Dog” it seemed to be one of the themes I should stress. At the end of the book, I cite a famous line from the Jungle Book: “For the strength of the pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the pack.”

Kipling became one of my favorite authors as a child and remains so today.

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