This is Ilene Cooper's third book in her Lucy series, following #1 / Absolutely Lucy and #2 / Lucy on the Loose, all three part of the Stepping Stones series of easy chapter books.
The book is about Bobby Quinn, a painfully shy boy, and his beagle pup, Lucy. Since Bobby's parents gave Lucy to him for his eighth birthday earlier in the summer, Lucy has helped Bobby make his first two friends and start to come out of his shell. The new friends, Shawn and Candy, are both new to the neighborhood and all three are waiting to see whether they'll be in the same classroom when school starts. The three children decide to enter their pets in a "spokespet" contest at the local pet store, and Lucy manages to win, earning her a year's worth of dog food and a chance to be in a commercial if she wins at the next level. Bobby is proud and excited for Lucy until he learns that he would also be expected to be in the commercial. The thought terrifies him, but he doesn't want Lucy to miss an opportunity for the spotlight. Further, when school starts, Bobby's teacher tells the class they will be giving oral reports in front of the class. Bobby has a lot of fears to deal with, but has a dog and two new friends to help him through it.
The plot is somewhat similar to Because of Winn-Dixie, where the main character is lonely and has no friends until a pet dog helps her make new friends and become more outgoing.
I've enjoyed reading this series, including this third book. At 102 pages, with large print and several illustrations, this book is longer than the 74-75 pages of the first two books, but still perfect for my lower fourth grade readers. The reading level, 2.8, is also higher than the 2.0 and 1.9 of the first two books. However, as young readers become more familiar with characters, storyline, etc., it tends to make the reading level easier for them.
I can now file these three books together on my "limited series" shelf, filling a niche for my struggling readers. I'm sure the books will be much read and loved in the coming years.
I would rate this book an 8 (solidly enjoyable, good quality) on a scale of 1-10.