Stella (Shadow Mountain, September 2022) is the story of a security service dog with trauma issues. Due to an error while sniffing out bombs at an airport, Stella’s handler was tragically killed in an explosion. Stella survived but is now afraid of everything. A kindly trainer takes her home and entrusts her to the care of her own daughter, Cloe.
Cloe suffers from epilepsy, but she and Stella form a bond of love and trust. Stella gets a chance to help protect Cloe when some unscrupulous neighbor boys light firecrackers and start a forest fire. When Cloe has a seizure and is in severe danger, Stella comes to her rescue. She finds a new purpose in being Cloe’s medical service dog as well as her friend.
I really enjoyed this book because the story was well paced and very exciting. The characters were both believable and relatable. I loved how the story was told from a dog’s perspective, but it was still easy to read and never got confusing. The book deals with some very serious and intense topics without sugar-coating them. It speaks carefully and thoughtfully about these issues.
The book was very sad. Although it does have a good and happy ending, the events described were quite serious, and might even be considered a little frightening for younger readers. It is important however for kids to understand these grown-up topics like death, illness, bullies, forest fires, emotional pain, and loss. I benefitted from discussing some of the issues the book brought up with my older siblings and my mom.
I would absolutely recommend this book for anyone who wants an engaging, easy-to-read story. Stella teaches many important lessons in words appropriately geared towards a younger audience. This book would also make an excellent read-aloud for a group discussion or with a trusted adult. The author includes some excellent questions for further discussion.
Josie Murdock is 10-years-old and lives with her family on a research farm in South Carolina. She is homeschooled and loves reading, drawing, and foxes. This is her first time writing a book review.
I am giving away McCall Hoyle's debut lower middle grade through the July issue of Talking Story. To enter, please leave a comment with your name and email address or email me and I'll enter your name. The giveaway ends July 28. PLUS: If you leave a comment here AND through the newsletter, I'll enter your name twice! U.S. addresses only.
Congratulations to Dannielle Hammelef who won Franz's Phantasmagorical Machine.
As I mentioned before, authors really appreciate pre-orders!
Here's the book trailer and a video of McCall speaking about empathy.
Make sure you check out other MG books on Greg Pattridge's blog.