CM . . .
. Volume XXIV Number 23. . . .February 16, 2018
Sterling, Best Dog Ever.
New York, NY: Farrar Straus Giroux (Distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books), July, 2018.
32 pp., hardcover, $23.50.
Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.
Review by Ellen Heaney.
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
Sterling is a dog who has known rejection. He decides that if he can’t winkle his way into a family as a pet, he will become something else: the best fork ever.
He gets into the Butlery Cutlery Factory and thence into a box which is delivered to the Gilbert household. The whole family is intrigued by their new utensil, and the unnamed girl in the story immediately recognizes Sterling’s potential as a dog. But an invitation to take a walk on a leash or jump up onto the bed causes Sterling anxiety. He is afraid he is not meeting young Miss Gilbert’s expectations because, surely, she could not be welcoming an animal into her life! Perhaps he should try being something other than just a fork?
Maybe they needed a better whisk. He’d be perfect for pastry.
Sterling was adaptable. However, Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert were not impressed. Not at all.
The next morning the girl took Sterling out, though he couldn’t imagine why. He would be the best whatever-she-needed, if she’d just take him back home.
The destination is a dog park where Sterling sees other animals frolicking and having fun. But he still cannot admit to his inner nature. It isn’t until he fails as a golf club and a draft-stopper that he sees how disconsolate the child is and allows her to enfold him in a furry hug. They relax, both at last able to appreciate Sterling’s true dogginess.
The story takes place in a comfortable middle-class, mixed race household, with interior and exterior scenes depicted in a calm colour palette. There are expressive faces on all the characters, but especially on the narrow, eager snout of the elongated, yearning body of Sterling. This is a debut effort from Cassie who is both author and illustrator here.
Although I found the book amusing, I wish the writer was not trying quite so hard for wacky. However, Sterling, Best Dog Ever has a place in the primary reading nook or at library story time.
Recommended with Reservations.
Ellen Heaney, a retired children’s librarian, lives in Coquitlam, BC.
© CM Association
University of Manitoba
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