By Leslie, Everett Public Library staff
Here is a photo of my dog Pearl, reading the novel The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein which is this year’s pick for Everett Reads! The narrator of this book is a dog. There’s a long history of dogs as narrators of stories, starting with two by Jack London:
The Call of the Wild and White Fang by Jack London. The Call of the Wild is the story of Buck, a dog stolen from his home and thrown into the brutal life of the Klondike to suffer hardship, bitter cold, and the mean lawlessness of men and dogs. White Fang concerns the adventures of an animal (part dog, part wolf) that was turned vicious by cruel abuse and is then transformed through the patience and affection of one man.
Jack London’s excellent ability as a storyteller and his deep understanding of nature and animals have made these among the world’s most favorite dog stories. They are both classic stories and well worth your reading time.
We read the entire Hank the Cow Dog series out loud to our children. They are hilarious! Hank is the Head of Ranch Security, defending his Texan home along with his faithful deputy, Drover. In the first book of the series, The Original Adventures of Hank the Cow Dog, Hank turns from crime fighter to criminal after he is accused of murder, resigns his position, and joins a gang of outlaw coyotes.
We refer to this series often in our family. If someone doesn’t want to do a chore, we say, “Hank, my leg hurts! I can’t do it!” (That was always Drover’s excuse.) And often when the mailman comes, we break into this song: “Bark at the mailman! Give him your full load! He has no business walking down my road!” What a rich literary history our family shares because of Hank!
Peter Mayle of A Year in Provence fame wrote a book narrated by his dog, Boy, —“a dog whose personality is made up of equal parts Boswell and Dr. Johnson, Mencken and A. A. Milne”. In A Dog’s Life, Boy is a master of eloquence and humor. If you need a bit of cheering up, this is the book to do it.
Marley and Me by John Grogan is the heartwarming story of a family in the making and the neurotic dog who taught them what really matters in life. As a dog owner, I’m left wondering if Marley just needed a good daily walk and some consistent training. If you liked the movie, you’ll like this book.
This next story is about a lovable dog’s search for his purpose over the course of several lives. More than just another charming dog story, A Dog’s Purpose touches on the universal quest for an answer to life’s most basic question: Why are we here?
Surprised to find himself reborn as a puppy after a tragically short life as a stray mutt, Bailey’s search for meaning in his new life leads him into the loving arms of 8-year-old Ethan. During their countless adventures Bailey joyously discovers how to be a good dog. But this life as a beloved family pet is not the end of Bailey’s journey. Reborn as a puppy yet again, Bailey wonders—will he ever find his purpose?
In the book Roam, Nelson is a bright-eyed, inquisitive half beagle, half poodle. He lives with Katey and Don, newlyweds whose marriage is straining under the pressures of domesticity. There are few things Nelson likes better than to follow a scent, and one day he follows his nose and gets lost … very lost. Though he searches frantically for Katey—and she for him—Nelson can’t seem to find his way home, and he soon realizes that if he’s ever to see his great love again, he must make his way on his own and try to survive in the wild.
Over the course of eight years, Roam follows Nelson as he crosses the country searching for his family. For a time he rides shotgun with a truck driver named Thatcher, then he lives in the woods with a pack of wolves. Nelson has many adventures and believes that one day he’ll make it home … and maybe, just maybe, he will… .
And for an absolutely awesome dog read which is not written from a dog’s point of view, you simply must read Susan Orlean’s Rin Tin Tin; The Life and the Legend.
“He believed the dog was immortal.” So begins Susan Orlean’s sweeping and moving account of Rin Tin Tin’s journey from abandoned puppy to movie star and international icon. Covering almost one hundred years of history, from the dog’s improbable discovery on a World War I battlefield in 1918 to his tumultuous rise through Hollywood and beyond, Rin Tin Tin is a love story about the mutual devotion between one man and one dog. It is also an American story of reinvention and an exploration of our bond with animals.
I wonder what sort of book my dog Pearl would write if she were able to take pen to paper. It would definitely include squirrels, cats, other dogs, birds and a few good chase scenes!