What are two girls to do when their lives are upended and they’re sent to summer camp to become best friends while their dads fall in love? Break them up! But what happens when that backfires, they start becoming actual best friends and trouble brews between the papas? It leads to a whirlwind of adventure between coasts and camps as Bett and Avery, who never thought they’d ever have anything in common, must figure out how to make things work not only for their dads, but in their own lives.
Thank you to Penguin for including me on the To Night Owl From Dogfish Blog Tour. Today’s post is in collaboration with Arys from Read. Eat. Love.. Please be sure to visit her blog today to see what dishes she chose for her own Inspired By the Book – Food post and Part II of the Guest Post by the Authors (see below!).
Published: 12 February 2019
Publisher: Dial Books
Category: Middle Grade/Contemporary/LGBT+
From two extraordinary authors comes a moving, exuberant, laugh-out-loud novel about friendship and family, told entirely in emails and letters.
Avery Bloom, who’s bookish, intense, and afraid of many things, particularly deep water, lives in New York City. Bett Devlin, who’s fearless, outgoing, and loves all animals as well as the ocean, lives in California. What they have in common is that they are both twelve years old, and are both being raised by single, gay dads.
When their dads fall in love, Bett and Avery are sent, against their will, to the same sleepaway camp. Their dads hope that they will find common ground and become friends–and possibly, one day, even sisters.
But things soon go off the rails for the girls (and for their dads too), and they find themselves on a summer adventure that neither of them could have predicted. Now that they can’t imagine life without each other, will the two girls (who sometimes call themselves Night Owl and Dogfish) figure out a way to be a family?
Rating: 4 Stars
Rep: Brazilian/African-American MC (Bett); Mexican-American/Caucasian-Jewish MC (Avery); allergy rep (peanut); MC w/ asthma
Authors Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer embraced the voice of their 12-13 year old protagonists. Each letter felt full of the energy from the two of them, whether it was Bett talking exuberantly about surfing and her rescue dogs or Avery and the many topics she researched due to worry or interest.
Through these letters, while Bett and Avery were figuring each other out, including the situation with their fathers (meeting, falling in love, sending their daughters to camp, etc.), it was interesting to see how they viewed the world around them, particularly the people that entered their lives.
As children experiencing the events of To Night Owl from Dogfish, they saw things in a different way than the adults in the book (and those reading it) would, such as when Kristina, Avery’s non-custodial biological mother, shows up at the first camp the girls are staying at. Some supplementary letters from other character provide alternate view points, which added to the viewpoints of the novel and gave some perspective from older persons.
Those letters were a bit strange, however, in the tone that they presented. While I commended the authors earlier for embracing the voice of their adolescent characters, I think the voice of their adult characters felt too juvenile most of the time.
Timing was an odd thing in the book. The action was told almost entirely in emails, sometimes in handwritten letters, but there were never any dates or timestamps on those emails. Sometimes months were mentioned, the return date of the girls’ dad was stated, but other than such instances the transition of time was marked well so it was as if the events of the book existed in some sort of vacuum.
Bett did seem to over/misuse the word trigger more than a few times, which at first I thought stemmed from a child’s figuring out how to express her emotions and limits than a blatant misunderstanding of the severity of triggers by the authors. As the girls progressed with their learning in other areas though, I’m not quite sure if I could count myself as disavowed of this notion because Bett did keep using “trigger” to describe situations that I didn’t think were appropriate.
To Night Owl From Dogfish is a fun novel to read because there’s complications, there’s a journey, and there’s a strong development of friendship. Bett and Avery are definitely the focus, but readers will find themselves equally interested in the side characters and the descriptions of the girls many summer activities, from the food to the interactions with fellow campers.
Camp Food Ideas
My personal camp experience is somewhat limited, but while reading To Night Owl From Dogfish there were certain foods that I wish I’d had while doing it. The mini-menu I pulled together today would, I think, be great for a lot of camp experiences.
Egg salad sandwiches are mentioned as one of the lunch items served at the first camp Bett and Avery attend – CIGI (Challenge Influence Guide Inspire). Lillie from The Kitchen Witch has a recipe for egg salad that makes the perfect sandwiches for a camp lunch. I used to take such sandwiches to lakeside adventures and could easily picture the girls enjoying these.
I took Lillie’s suggestion and toasted the bread (delicious!), while making a slight change and adding some tomato slices because a) I love tomatoes and b) I thought they added a nice freshness.
Another tasty treat inspired by To Night Owl from Dogfish is lemon tofu cheesecake bites. I am a big fan of cheesecake and maintain that a local diner of mine makes the best, but the recipe I found for these looks darn tasty.
What’s good about this one is that it’s no bake, it’s something that kids could either make or help put together, and the bite size servings make it a great snack for camp.
Jovita from Yummy Addiction (photo & recipe) brought some great flavors together. The lemon and raspberry are tangy & bright and the chocolate Oreo crust is a rich crust that leaves room for customization. With the sheer amount of different Oreo flavors out there, you could make any kind of crust you’d like. That would be a fun activity for camp goers to express their individual tastes. 🙂
Guest Post – Part I
Holly and Meg wrote a special surprise guest post for my To Night Out from Dogfish tour partner, Arys from Read. Eat. Love., to share along with the rest of our goodies today. I’ll be posting Part I of the post here on The Hermit Librarian; for Part II, please visit Read. Eat. Love. to see what Holly and Meg have to say about ALA Midwinter, their personal camping experiences, and their favorite foods.
HGS: Today we’re talking about our new novel, TO NIGHT OWL FROM DOGFISH, and we are also talking about FOOD! I believe food to be an adventure.
MW: We do spend a lot of time in real life talking about food, so really this should be a breeze.
HGS: And our two main characters in the book do as well. Bett, who is twelve years old and from Venice, California, eats anything and everything.
MW: Yes. And Avery, who is twelve years old and from New York City, is a vegetarian.
HGS: I guess it’s worth pointing out that you don’t eat meat–but you do eat fish.
MW: True. I’m a pescatarian.
HGS: And while one of my sons is a very committed vegan, I had a cheeseburger for lunch today.
MW: One of my sons is a pescatarian, like me. I myself had a quinoa salad for lunch.
HGS: In our book, one of the first times the two girls connect is because of food. I’m thinking of the passage when the girls are both first at summer camp (against their will) and circumstances find Bett stuck in the infirmary. Avery goes that night to feed Bett’s pigs.
MW: Yes. Food as a way to build a bridge–an act of kindness.
Holly Goldberg Sloan was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan and spent her childhood living in Holland; Istanbul, Turkey; Washington, D.C.; Berkeley, California; and Eugene, Oregon. After graduating from Wellesley College and spending some time as an advertising copywriter, she began writing family feature films, including Angels in the Outfield and Made in America. She is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Counting by 7s and Short, among other novels.
Meg Wolitzer was born in Brooklyn, New York, grew up in the town of Syosset, on Long Island, and sold her first novel, Sleepwalking, while a senior in college. She is the New York Times-bestselling author of numerous novels for adults, including The Interestings, The Ten-Year Nap, The Wife, and The Female Persuasion; the young adult novel Belzhar; and the middle-grade novel The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman.
February 4 – Books4yourkids – Author Guest Post
February 4 – Two Points of Interest – Author Guest Post
February 5 – Pages and Pugs – Favorite Quotes
February 5 – Amber After Glows – Favorite Quotes
February 6 – Read. Eat. Love. – Inspired by the Book: Food
February 6 – The Hermit Librarian – Inspired by the Book: Food
February 7 – Book Loaner Blog – Listicle: Camp Activities Inspired by the Book
February 7 – Books. Libraries. Also, cats – Listicle: Camp Activities Inspired by the Book
February 8 – Happy Reading Co. – Favorite Quotes
February 8 – The Quirky Book Nerd – Favorite Quotes
February 11 – That Reader Girl – Listicle: Camp Songs
February 11 – We Live and Breathe Books – Listicle: Camp Songs
February 12 – Sam Maybe Reading – Review
February 12 – Randomly Reading – Review
February 13 – The Reading Corner for All – Creative Instagram Picture
February 13 – Dos Lit Worms – Creative Instagram Picture
February 14 – Laceydoeslit – Review + Playlist
February 14 – The Bookworm Banter – Review + Playlist
February 15 – YA Books Central – Author Q&A
February 15 – Because reading is better than real life – Author Q&A
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Quotes included are from an advanced reader copy and may not reflect the finalized copy.
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