A couch-potato kid and his rambunctious dog are at the center of the book selected for the Orlando Sentinel's 2013 One Book One Community reading campaign.
Central Florida children — and the adults in their lives — are encouraged to share "The Fast and The Furriest," by Andy Behrens, in the campaign, now in its 12th year.
The campaign, which begins April 21 and runs through May 27, will include read-alouds in classrooms and public libraries. In keeping with the spirit of this year's book, several read-alouds will feature canine visitors. Behrens will join one program through Skype, the software that allows video phone calls via the Internet.
"The Fast and the Furriest" tells the story of Kevin, a 12-year-old who wants to spend his summer doing as little as possible. But Kevin's father, a former star football player, has different ideas.
One Book One Community is part of the Orlando Sentinel's Reading by Nine literacy initiative, which strives to ensure Central Florida's children are reading at grade level by age 9 — the critical point when students must make the transition from learning to read to reading to learn.
"'The Fast and the Furriest' is especially significant as the theme centers around a young boy who learns that physical exercise for him and his dog is not only fun and healthy — but can change your life," said Jan Shay, who spearheads the Reading by Nine program. "To teach an important lesson and still be fun — what is better that that?"
Books selected in previous years include "Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White, "James and the Giant Peach" by Roald Dahl, "Mr. Popper's Penguins" by Richard and Florence Atwater, and "Hoot" by Carl Hiaasen.
For educational activities related to The Fast and the Furriest or more information about area read-alouds, go to OrlandoSentinel.com/readingbynine
Special One Book One Community events at public libraries will include:
•Jean Rhein Central Branch Library: 215 N. Oxford Road, Casselberry: 3 p.m. May 8
•North Branch Library, 150 N. Palmetto Ave., Sanford: 3 p.m. May 8
•East Branch Library, 310 Division St., Oviedo: 3 p.m. May 15
•West Branch Library, 245 N. Hunt Club, Longwood: 3 p.m. May 15
•Northwest Branch Library, 580 Greenway Blvd., Lake Mary: 4 p.m. May 16
•Winter Park Library, 460 E. New England Ave., Winter Park: 10:30 a.m.-noon May 4. A 30-minute dog-themed storytime will be followed by an hour of "Paws to Read," in which children can read a book of their choice with a canine companion. More information: 407-623-3300, Ext. 4
•West Oaks Branch, 1821 E. Silver Star Road, Ocoee: 3 p.m. April 30
•Herndon Branch, 4324 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando: 3:30 p.m. May 22. With special guests from the SPCA of Central Florida
•North Orange Branch, 1211 E. Semoran Blvd., Apopka: 2 p.m. Sunday, May 12
•Windermere Branch, 530 Main St., Windermere: 4 p.m. Thursday, May 16
•Children's Library at Orlando Public Library, 101 E. Central Blvd., Orlando: 3 p.m. May 17
•Edgewater Branch, 5049 Edgewater Drive, Orlando: 2 p.m. May 18
•South Trail Branch, 4600 S. Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando: 3 p.m. May 22
•Winter Garden Branch, 805 E. Plant St., Winter Garden: 11 a.m. May 25. A dog will be present.
•Orlando Public Library, 101 E. Central Blvd., Orlando: 10:30 a.m. May 16. Author Andy Behrens will answer children's questions live via Skype. Registration required; call 407-835-7323.