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(With Iris Rainer Dart) Larry: The King of Rock and Roll (fantasy novel; for young readers), Putnam (New York, NY), 2007.
Joyce Brotman and Iris Rainer Dart have been friends for many years. Dart is the author of a number of books, most notably the novel Beaches, which served as the basis for the film of the same name, starring Bette Midler. Brotman and Dart have much in common, especially their love for dogs, so when they decided to collaborate on a book, that shared love became their inspiration. The result is the children's book Larry: The King of Rock and Roll. The book tells the story of a little girl named Cathy, her father, Tom, who writes songs, and Larry, their miracle of a dog. Larry appears to be a perfectly normal pet, until one day, when Tom is struggling to finish his latest song, Larry offers him some help by actually opening his mouth and speaking. Tom is naturally surprised, but he is even more astonished when Larry informs him that not only can he speak, but he can sing, too. Larry the singing dog becomes a national sensation, performing to sold-out crowds and even before the president of the United States.
But Larry soon allows his success to change him. He develops a huge ego and decides to make some changes in his act. He drops Tom, who had been working with him until this point, and decides he no longer wishes to be Cathy's pet. Instead, he goes to live with his agent. None of this affects his career, however, and Larry continues his meteoric rise. He is scheduled to perform in a showcase at the famed Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, and people begin to refer to him as the King of Rock and Roll. Larry eventually must decide if it is truly more important to be a successful rock star, or if all of that success is actually hollow now that he has left behind the people he loves. School Library Journal writer Tracy H. Chrenka praised the book for covering difficult topics, such as relationships and hard choices. She noted: "Underneath its sweet, silly surface, this story touches on several issues that are important to today's children." A contributor to Kirkus Reviews, observing that Larry faces some prejudice as a dog despite his fame, and that his personality often grates on the reader despite the humorous approach, similarly pointed out that "though played for laughs, there are some sharp edges here."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2006, review of Larry: The King of Rock and Roll, p. 1218.
School Library Journal, March, 2007, Tracy H. Chrenka, review of Larry, p. 208.