Written entirely from a dog’s perspective, this is a heart-warming tale for all readers, irrespective of whether or not you’re a fan of our canine friends.
Cosmo is a golden retriever who is getting on in years: he joined Mom and Dad before the arrival of Max, now twelve, and his younger sister, Emmeline. Cosmo is fiercely loyal to his family and determined to do everything he can to protect them. Given he’s a dog, that’s always been a challenge with some significant limitations. It’s even more so now because Mom and Dad are arguing a lot. So much, in fact, that both Cosmo and Max are worried that Mom and Dad might divorce. And, if that’s not bad enough, the breakup of the family could mean dog and boy are separated and forced to live apart. It’s a terrifying prospect. Max becomes determined to find a way to demonstrate that Cosmo and Max belong together. With Uncle Reggie’s help, Max and Cosmo enrol in “canine freestyle” lessons (i.e. dancing for dogs) and set out to win the walk-on roll in a major dance movie.
I’m most definitely not a dog person so I was a little dubious about reading a book told entirely from the perspective of an animal that I would normally cross the street to avoid. I needn’t have worried. Cosmo’s first-person voice appealed straightaway and I just loved his description of the ritual humiliation associated with being dressed up for Halloween. Indeed, the world from his perspective is so absorbing that I happily overlooked the Americanisms that I normally find irritating.
Given I know practically nothing about dogs, I can’t comment on the accuracy of the characterisation of Cosmo. However, it certainly feels believable. I particularly enjoyed the focus on how the world smells while Cosmo’s descriptions of the mysteries of human behaviours really made me smile.
The human characters are easier to assess. Although told entirely through Cosmo’s viewpoint, Max is well-rounded and easy to empathise with. For me, however, it was Mom’s brother, Uncle Reggie, who really sprang off the page. A dog trainer who has served in Afghanistan, Reggie is the ultra-cool Uncle and comes to act as mentor to both Cosmo and Max. (Indeed, it’s testament to Cosmo’s affection of Uncle Reggie that he’s happy to share the piece of bacon he deliberately stuffed behind the cushion in the sofa).
If you’re looking for a plot driven adventure with a fast-paced story, this is probably not the book for you. However, the plot is more than enough to keep you reading and the climax is particularly moving.
If you enjoyed reading a story for an animal’s perspective, you might like to try Call Me Alastair by Cory Leonardo. Alternatively, if you’re looking for another middle grade read that deals with family break up, I’d recommend you try The Boy with the Butterfly Mind by Victoria Williamson.
Publication date: August 2019
Publisher: Nosy Crow
Author’s website: Carlie Sorosiak