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Great Reads On Our Radar
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By Bonnie Kenaz-Mara
Tracy Beckerman is one funny mother and I've had the pleasure of hanging out with her in person several times. I've also thoroughly enjoyed the vicarious trips through her life and mind, every time she publishes a new book or syndicated column. Her latest release, Barking at the Moon is no exception.
The Beckerman Boys - photo from the author
Tracy is entirely relatable and moved me to laugh out loud many times throughout this book, and tear up by the end. Barking at the Moon is essentially a love letter, not only to it's tall, dark and hairy protagonist prankster, Riley, the retriever, but also to the hands-on parenting years. Like Tracy, I also have a son and a daughter two years younger, and adored the decades of adventures with young children and their accompanying menagerie.
I'm finally at that parenting stage where I have two kids in college for the first time this year, and a shrinking home zoo, and I'd be lying if I said I don't miss it all. At our family pet peak we had two dogs, four guinea pigs, a 30 gallon tank full of tropical fish, and various betta fish bowls, also won by the kids with ping pong ball prowess, all in our urban Chicago home on Central Park Ave. I'm also a former cricket buying mama who not only fed/watered/housed a gecko at home, but somehow got suckered into insect buying for my daughter's two classroom lizards as well! We're down to two dogs and the big fish tank, but our WiFi is still lovingly dubbed The Central Park Wildlife Center (as in the NY zoo).
ChiIL Mama's Iggy Pup and Dugan, home from Northwestern University for a visit and missed greatly by dogs and parents alike.
Although the mess and chaos of caregiving for littles and their pets can be exhausting and gross in the moment, the years do fly by. And everyone who has deeply loved pets with shorter lifespans and/or children who are grown and flown knows the bittersweet ache of being past those days.
The Beckerman Kids - photos from the author
As the covid pandemic rages on, there are three things that have helped me weather the extra challenges of the past few years, humor, books, and dogs. Barking at the Moon expertly and hilariously combines all three. I was thrilled to be chosen for this blog hop and even happier when my assigned date aligned with my Husky Beagle (husgle... Beasky...?!) Iggy's golden birthday. Yes, Igrain the Brave (AKA: Iggy Pup) is 12 today on January 12th.
As I read Tracy's poignant, pup loving adventures and wrote this review, my sweet, old girl kept me company, curled up by the fire, along with my giant lap dog, Finsternis, my three year old, 110lb King German Shepherd, who loves nothing more than to sit on me while I write. Yes, the littles may be big now and off to live their own lives, but the memories remain. And there's always room in the empty nest for a dog or two!
ChiIL Mama's pups, Fin (as a puppy) and Iggy
Bonnie is a Chicago based writer, theatre critic, photographer, videographer, actress, artist and Mama. She owns two websites where she publishes frequently: ChiILLiveShows.com (adult) & ChiILMama.com (family friendly).
I'm in great company with 18 other witty writers. Want to read more about Barking at the Moon and/or discover some new online favorites? Check out these links:
**Check out an excerpt from Barking at the Moon below**
(This bit had me laughing so hard I sprayed my latte all over Fin who happily lapped it up. Thanks Tracy. The world needs more caffeinated 110lb lap dogs. Reader beware. Put the coffee down before you read any further.)
From the Chapter: My dog Wears Boxer Shorts
Tracy Beckerman and her latest pup - photo from the author
BARKING AT THE MOON
“I love this woman!”
—JENNY LAWSON, aka The Bloggess, #1 New York Times best-selling author of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and the recently released Broken (in the best possible way)
“Tracy Beckerman’s adventures with Riley in Barking at the Moon give John Grogan’s Marley a run for his chew toys. If you’ve ever been blessed with the best dog ever, wrapped in the slobbering fur bomb body of the most accident-prone pooch ever, you’ll fall in love with this book. Barking at the Moon reminds us how lucky we are to be a dog’s best friend.”
—REBECCA REGNIER, columnist, speaker, and author of the Widow’s Bay series and The Snow Wife
“Several years ago, while working at a major publishing house, I turned down a book that I told colleagues was about ‘a very bad dog who dies,’ adding, ‘who wants to read that?’ So, Marley and Me went to another publisher and had some success. I tell you this to warn you I am not a good judge of what will interest others. But Tracy Beckerman’s Barking at the Moon had me chuckling from the shaking my head in solidarity as only a mother who has had her own menagerie of misbehaving animals can do.”
—CINDY RATZLAFF, author of Queen of Your Own Life
“As a dog lover, I laughed and cried and related throughout. With the assembled menagerie at the Beckerman house, there is rarely a dull moment, and we get to enjoy it all . . . from a safe distance.”
—JOEL MADISON, Peabody award-winning TV writer and screenwriter of Roseanne, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Crashing
“You’re either a dog person or you’re not, and if you’re not, please go away. Tracy Beckerman is clearly a dog person and has the brilliance and bravery to admit that puppies are superior to children, and not just because they don’t need a college fund. This warm and witty ‘dog-oir’ (yes, I just made that up) is for everyone who ever had a family or loved a dog. You will love it!”
—CATHRYN MICHON, screenwriter of A Dog’s Purpose
Devilishly handsome Riley
“Barking at the Moon is a funny, heartwarming book for everyone who believes that pets have a special place in the family and enrich our lives. Tracy Beckerman shares her big-hearted family’s journey with wit and insight.”
—MATT BOMBECK, award-winning TV writer
“Hilarious and moving, Beckerman shows us just how dogs hijack our lives . . . and our hearts. All animal lovers will recognize the com- pletely true-to-life depiction Beckerman captures of the way animals destroy our homes, complicate our days, and cost us a fortune, and, yet, how we wouldn’t have it any other way. You’ll fall for sweet, goofy Riley, and laugh (and cry) at how he completes this funny family.”
—KATRINA KITTLE, author of The Blessings of the Animals
Barking at the Moon, a witty, side-splitting, and heartwarming look at the ultimate role a beloved pooch plays in family dynamics. A great read for anyone who’s loved a dog, wanted a dog, or even admired one from a distance.”
—SUSAN REINHARDT, author of Chimes from a Cracked Southern Belle, and Not Tonight, Honey: Wait ‘Til I’m a Size 6
“Tracy Beckerman makes you feel like you’re right there in her kitchen as the mayhem unfolds. And at the center of the madness is her dog, Riley, who warms your heart as he steals the show. It’s impossible to resist Beckerman’s hilarious tale of life lived out loud.”
—V. C. CHICKERING, author of the novels, Twisted Family Values and Nookietown
“Undeterred by their inability to keep a houseplant alive, the Beckermans decide their family just isn’t complete without a dog. But when Riley comes into their lives, insanity ensues. He slobbers his way into this family’s heart and becomes its anchor in a riotous tale that is so funny, you’ll have to pee!”
—SUSAN KONIG, author of Why Animals Sleep So Close to the Road (and Other Lies I Tell My Children)
“Tracy Beckerman will have you alternately howling with laughter and dabbing your eyes with a tissue at the escapades and travails of her brood’s beloved Type A four-legged family member.”
—JENNY GARDINER, author of Bite Me: A Parrot, a Family, and a Whole Lot of Flesh Wounds
“Sometimes, you just want to curl up in your crate with your favorite chew toy and a funny, warmhearted, relatable book. This is that book.”
—ANNA LEFLER, author of PRESCHOOLED and The Chicktionary
Riley rockin' his retriever roots
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