Strongheart: Wonder Dog of the Silver Screen

illus. by Eric Rohmann. 256p. Random/Schwartz & Wade. Feb. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781101934104.
Gr 4–6—Fleming and Rohmann (Bulldozer's Big Day; Oh No!; and Giant Squid) team up on a new book based on the true story of Strongheart, a vicious police dog turned lovable silent movie star. A puppy named Etzel is taken from his family and trained to act against his gentle instincts. Meanwhile, Larry Trimble and Jane Murfin, movie producer and screenwriter, respectively, are searching for a canine who can actually act. When Larry discovers Etzel, he renames him Strongheart and sets out to make him a silent movie star. He becomes a Hollywood sensation, able to convey emotions on-screen and sniff out the bad guys in real life. Rohmann's illustrations largely consist of Strongheart in various situations (at police dog training, on his first movie set, meeting orphan boys), with very few drawings of the human characters. The subject matter, coupled with the illustrations, make Strongheart ideal for reluctant readers, particularly animal lovers. The back matter (which includes photos of Strongheart and his on-and-off-screen partner, Lady Jule) is extensive enough to satisfy curiosity about the real Strongheart and illuminate the sections of the book that are Fleming's speculation, such as those parts of the story told from Strongheart's perspective.
VERDICT This fictionalized account of true events provides a look into the life of a little-known historical figure, and makes an excellent choice for general purchase.

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