“Why do it?” I asked myself. “Just months ago, you reviewed a book about a dog with a second chance at a happy life (Saving Audie by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent), so why do another so soon?” “I can’t help it!” was my reply. “I’ve fallen in love, and people in love can do foolish things. So there!”
The object--or should I say, objects--of my affection? Ten dogs: Bowser the thief, clumsy Penny, Stick the scrounger, terrible Tyke, Cocoa the compulsive digger, EZ the runaway, rowdy Rowdy, nervous Sammy, free-spirited Free, overeager Meemo. Each of them were either strays or “problem” dogs, left at shelters and pounds, with slim chances of finding permanant homes, until they were discovered by a remarkable man, Luciano Anastasini.
Luciano was born into a family with many generations or circus performers; the circus was his life and his home. When a terrible accident ended his career as an acrobat and high wire artist, he had to come up with another act if he was to have a second chance as a circus performer, to remain in that world he knew and loved. He imagined a dog act might be just the thing. But rather than going to a dog breeder or pet store, Luciano searched in places like pounds and shelters, for dogs who needed a second chance as he did, and in whom Luciano could see potential.
But Luciano was not an animal trainer. How could he teach his dogs to behave and cooperate with each other in a professional circus act? He began by taking care of the dogs, watching them, letting them show him what they liked to do, and finding solutions to the problems that affected their behaviors. He taught the dogs tricks that played to their strengths, and found unique ways to fit each dog into a funny, fast-paced and adorable act. Luciano Anastasini and His Pound Puppies learned from each other and built trust in each other, with results that have amazed and delighted circus goers and animal lovers alike.
Simply but beautifully written, Muntean’s narrative is framed in bright, colorful shapes, and enhanced with perfectly charming illustrations by husband-and-wife photographer/ cinematographer team K.C. Bailey and Stephen Kazmierski. From the forward by prize-winning author Kate DiCamillo, to a sweet, funny letter to the reader by Luciano at the end of the book, it’s satisfying reading from start to finish for a wide range of ages. As DiCamillo put it so well, "...it is a story of second chances, belief, and love. Mostly, though, it is a story of the miracles that can occur when we (dog or human) are extended the grace of being well and truly seen by another."
Recommended for ages 4 and up.
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