ISBN 10: 0062235540 / ISBN 13: 9780062235541
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From Jenny Lee, writer on the Disney Channel show Shake It Up!, the number-one-rated kids' show in the country, this feel-good middle-grade novel is about a sickly boy whose life is turned upside down when he gets a therapy dog . . . who can talk!

Benji Wendell Barnsworth is a small ten-year-old boy with a big personality. Born premature, Benji is sickly, accident-prone, and at the hospital so often he even has his own punch card. So when Benji wakes up one day from a particularly bad spell, his doctors take the radical step of suggesting he get a therapy dog. But when a massive crate arrives at Benji's house, out walks a two-hundred-pound Newfoundland who can talk! And boy, is he bossy.

In this hilarious and heartwarming friendship story in the tradition of bestselling authors Gordon Korman and Carl Hiaasen, Elvis brings out the dog lover in the most surprising people and shows Benji that making new friends may not be as scary as he once thought.


The Story Behind the Story:Elvis and the Underdogs

When I got my dog Doozy, a Newfoundland, she was a twelve-week-old puppy and already weighed 35 pounds. Every day I walked her on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica, California, and like all puppies, she got stopped a lot by random strangers who wanted to say hello to the giant puppy. Since Newfoundlands are such large dogs, they are not very common, and everywhere I walked, people would tell me there was another black Newfy puppy, a boy named Finn, who lived in the area. Over and over this kept happening, but months passed and Doozy and I never once saw this mysterious neighboring Newfy.

Six months went by, and one day Doozy and I were walking along 14th Street when a giant white SUV stopped in the middle of the road, the driver’s side window rolled down, a giant mass of blond curls came out the window, and someone bellowed, “Is that Doozy?! Hey you! Is that Doozy?!” I was a little weirded out because she literally stopped traffic to yell at me, and cars were starting to pile up behind her. So I said, “Yes, this is Doozy.” And she yelled, “I’m going to pull over ahead. I’ve got Finn in the back!” And just like that Doozy and I finally met Finn and Nadine.

Doozy is now six years old and weighs 110 pounds; Finn is her boyfriend/best friend, and he weighs 160 pounds. Nadine and I have also become best of friends (but never you mind about how old we are and how much we weigh!). Nadine is absolutely the inspiration behind Benji’s mom in all the best ways. She has great hair, she’s funny and loud, and she’s a supercool mom to her actual kids and to her two Newfies (Finn now has a sister named Kimba). And, of course, my love of Doozy and Finn (and all Newfies) is the muse behind Elvis. I’m one of those dog owners who talk to their dogs sometimes (you know, the normal crazy-dog-owner amount . . . not the Houston-we-have-a-problem crazy amount). And if I was ever granted three wishes, I’d absolutely use one of them so Doozy and Finn could talk back. (And in case you were wondering, my second wish would be for a magic cake box that I could open every day and a different delicious cake would appear. And the jury is still out on my third wish, but I’ll keep you posted.)

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