________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 40 . . . . June 23, 2017


Top Dogs: True Stories of Canines That Made History.

Elizabeth MacLeod.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 2017.
102 pp., pbk., hc., epub & pdf, $14.95 (pbk.), $19.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55451-906-4 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55451-907-1 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-55451-908-8 (epub), ISBN 978-1-55451-909-5 (pdf).

Subject Heading:
Working dogs-History-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Tamara Opar.

***½ /4



Dogs have lived side by side with humans for as many as 32,000 years. Scientists believe they were the first animal that ancient humans tamed or domesticated. These early pets helped their owners hunt, guarded their families, and, like today, were faithful companions.

I really wanted to start this review with the following words: "Calling all dog lovers!" This book is for everybody and will certainly appeal to all who are interested in history, adventure, heroic acts, and, of course, dogs.

      In Top Dogs, MacLeod covers eight historical themes featuring dogs as valuable partners to humans in the development of our history. Some of the featured dogs include: Seaman, the Newfoundland that accompanied Lewis and Clark; dogs that served in World War I and II; Togo and Balto's lifesaving journey across the Alaskan tundra with diphtheria antitoxin; the first American guide dog, Buddy; search-and-rescue dogs, and more.

      Children will pick this book up thanks to the great cover featuring a terrier equipped with goggles and aviator scarf, ears flying high, clearly ready for an exciting adventure. And they will be happy that they did as the text is engaging and offers excellent information, illustrated with outstanding photographs to highlight events. The pages are peppered with bites of both historical and canine information under headings such as "Woof!", and "Dog Data". The format of the book, with respect to the scattered bits of interesting historical and dog facts, will appeal to reluctant readers as well as to children who have more confidence in their reading as they can focus on and grasp smaller bits of reading material at a time. One thing that I enjoyed about reading this work is the personal stories that are included, such as in the chapter about Morris Frank and Buddy, the first guide dog in America. MacLeod's writing is insightful and offers empathy for the life of Morris Frank and how Buddy's special training offered him personal freedom.

      I highly recommend Top Dogs to young readers as it offers a unique view of historical events, imaginably with the assistance of a canine reading buddy.

Highly Recommended.

Tamara Opar is Section Head of Children's and Teen Services at Millennium Library in Winnipeg, MB.

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

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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