Having raised six service dog puppies, I know only too well the challenges of those dogs needing a change of career. In Chester and Gus, Chester, the chocolate lab whose fear of loud noises kept him from becoming a service dog, is chosen to be the companion for Gus, a non-verbal boy with autism.
The most amazing thing about this story is the point of view. Author Cammie McGovern manages to put us completely inside Chester’s head, seeing and understanding from a canine perspective. Not only does this story give great insights on dogs, it also provides a window into the world of non-verbal kids, specifically those with autism.
My only critique is a personal one: In the real world, I am strongly opposed to the model where a service dog goes to school with a student, but without an adult who is specifically responsible for the safety of that dog.
- Dog lovers,
- A classroom read-aloud,
- A model for teaching point of view, and
- Any middle grade book reader! This book just draws you right in and keeps the pages turning.
Chester: “I can still help other people I love by sitting near them and thinking positive thoughts.”
Publisher: Harper (2017)
Age range: 8-12 (GL 3-7)