________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 27. . . .March 14, 2014


Bagels Come Home! (Orca Echoes).

Joan Betty Stuchner. Illustrated by Dave Whamond.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2014.
58 pp., pbk., pdf & epub, $6.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-45980-346-6 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-45980-347-3 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-45980-348-0 (epub).

Subject Heading:
Dogs-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 1-4 / Ages 6-9.

Review by John Dryden.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



“Naughty Bagels,” the instructor says. “Very naughty. Sit still. Still.” That’s when Bagels jumps up and bites the teacher’s finger. Not very hard. I mean, there’s only a drop or two of blood. Three at the most. The teacher yelps.

“Naughty, naughty Bagels!” the teacher says again. She turns to me. “Bagels is not ready for school,” she tells me.

Bagels pees on her leg.

We are told to leave.

Sometimes life doesn’t seem fair.

Out on the street, Becky says, “I don’t like that lady.”

Mom says, “She didn’t seem very patient.”

When we get home, Becky says, “Maybe if I bite my teacher’s finger I could get kicked out of Kindergarten.”

Mom says she doesn’t think that’s a good idea.

Dad’s not happy. “If Bagels can’t be trained, we might have to send him back.”

“Noooo!” says Becky. “He’ll learn, Dad. Honest. Just like we did. We got trained. Right, Josh?”

I say, “Becky’s right, Dad. Bagels will learn.”


Bagels Come Home! tells the story of the Berstein family who adopt a dog from the rescue centre. The motivation to get the dog named Bagels is a result of having a fish named Lox and a cat named Creamcheese, and that the kids are deemed ready for it. Bagels proceeds to be a very energetic Whippet breed of dog who is difficult to train. The dog has ways of escaping closed rooms and supposedly secure areas to cause all sorts of trouble that only a puppy could. The climax of the story comes when the dog is able to escape (with the help of the cat) the family house and track the family to the nearby community theatre where he winds up stealing the show.

internal art      Joan Betty Stuchner writes an entertaining quick story that will be enjoyed by the target age range as either a read-aloud or as a beginning novel. The author provides a tale that is whimsical and humourous. The crazy adventures that Bagels gets into are close enough to reality that many dog-owning adults will be able to relate to this book as well. The children in my house have certainly enjoyed it. The slate of characters is realistic and likable. The plot develops quickly and maintains the interest of the listener and reader. The writing has some very cute interactions between Josh and Becky and their parents that are not unlike conversations that could be heard around a dinner table. The story ends with Bagels soaring through the air on centre stage, and readers will be left with the feeling of fun and mischief that only owning a dog can bring.

     The black and white illustrations provided by Dave Whamond provide an additional layer of entertainment to this brisk tale. His illustrations will help readers get a good feeling for the moments that the author has provided with her words. The illustrations are funny and worth having a good long look at as you read.

     Overall, readers are going to quite like Bagels Come Home!.


John Dryden, an elementary school teacher, reviews for CM in the fine company of his feline in Duncan, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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