Over Thanksgiving my twin then rising 11 year old nieces were visiting from Northern Virginia. I love those girls although sometimes I think my crazy leaping, screaming and excitement scares them off a bit. There is no doubt that they come from my husband's quieter side of the family.
I don't even know how it got started but one tweet lead to another and before we knew it, Cammie McGovern offered to pass along an arc of her latest book, Chester and Gus, due out in April. Charlotte and I leaped for joy while Alison smiled to the side. Life was good.
Now life is even better because I will be sending this arc on to them for their unbiased fifth grade review. Charlotte will love it because it is filled with heart and sweetness but I hypothesize that Ali will love it even more. Where both girls are animal fans, especially dogs, Ali rises to the top in that arena. I know Charlotte and her parents love Sammy but it's Ali who thinks about him all the time. Asks about him when she's away and wishes for an opportunity to FaceTime with the kennel when they are spending time with their "Crazy Aunt Stacey" in upstate New York.
After being trained by Penny to be a service dog, Chester can't wait to find "his person." But he fails the certification test so Marc and Sara adopt him into his family to be a "therapy dog" for their autistic son, Gus. At first the two don't really connect. This does not stop Chester from trying. He observes Gus's likes and dislikes. When they first meet, Gus spends a lot of time looking outside. "I don't know what he thinks about when he stares out the window, but that's when he smells the happiest."
Chester isn't sure what Gus likes about school. "I think about all the things I love: chew toys, mostly. Balls. Food. Penny, who I love and still miss. I know Gus well enough now to know balls aren't his passion. Though I've seen him chew the collar of his shirt, I don't think chew toys would be a good bet. This gives me something to work on at school, though. Maybe I can help him find something he loves." And he does. Mama in the cafeteria for one. Amelia. Sparkly pens. And for some reason Chester can't figure out, Ed.
When one teacher challenges Chester being allowed in school, even after he rushed to save Gus, he begins hearing words he hasn't heard before (lawyer) and being exposed to things he hadn't (TV). Paws crossed this is all just temporary.
As a parent and adult, I could feel Sara and Marc's pain and wanting what's best for their child. As a 10 year old, I know my nieces (and my students) will fall immediately for chocolate lab, Chester, as he discovers the meaning of love and family. "Love is when you get to know each other well enough to not be scared anymore."
"When you spend your day looking out the window, the stories are a little slower and less exciting. But they're there."
This is one story worth taking a break from looking out the window to read.
|Charlotte and I leaping when we found out we could read an arc of this book way before the pub date!|
|Couldn't find a picture of Ali with Sammy but here she is with her souvenir dog t-shirt from vacation!|