by Patricia Polacco
Simon & Schuster
ages 4 and up
From beloved author Patricia Polacco comes the heartwarming and true story of Vera, an amazing dog who was found as a stray by the US Coast Guard, moved into the San Francisco Bay base, and became a hero and friend.
In 1962 a stray dog was found under a pile of boxes in a Coast Guard warehouse in what used to be called Government Island, the Coast Guard Base in San Francisco Bay, when a seaman named Dave Bunch was mopping the floor. It was love at first sight. At first the men decided to hide the pup from the Commander, thinking she wouldn’t be allowed. But soon enough all of the men in the barracks fell hard for the little dog. Then one day when high waves challenged another vessel at sea, it was Vera’s fierce determination and natural swimming ability that brought the life preserver and safety line to the sinking boat. Vera became a hero and the beloved pet and mascot of the San Francisco Coast Guard.
Kids are sure to love this heart-warming and inspirational read.
Vera was a stray dog and found by some members of the Coast Guard. The men enjoyed having her around and loved her right away. When a storm threatens the lives on another boat and there's no way to save them, Vera comes to the rescue and proves that there's more to a dog than a loving pet.
Taken from a real life event, this book guarantees to grab the interest of young readers—nothing is better than things which really happened. And Vera is a hero worthy of her own story. Not only is she a sweet dog, which automatically draws sympathy, but her courage and determination demands attention. The author brings her story to life in an exciting way, keeping up a quick pace while still allowing the reader to fall in love with Vera first. Listeners/readers will cheer for her as she proves that heroes come in all sizes and shapes, and tense on the edge of their seats as things don't run as smoothly as they could. There's love, there's adventure and there's moments which pull at the heart. It's a great mixture and sure to please.
The writing isn't for the youngest listener and is more fitting for ages 6 and up. Some terminology is taken from the Coast Guard and will need clarification, which is fun all on its own. The ending also touches upon a tear-jerking moment, which might affect more sensitive listeners. It's a book, which isn't only informative in a fun, interesting way, but it also leaves the listener/reader with emotions for afterthought.
The illustrations are a treat and pull into the story. They balance out the plot and place the emphasis where it's needed. The text is placed well, allowing the pictures to come to life around the words. There are quite a few exclamation-points, and one or two other grammatical errors. The narrative also switches its tone abruptly during the last pages as the author jumps in and tells the tale from her view after the point when she met Vera.
Summed up, this is a lovely book which takes a real-life event and brings it to life in a fun and engaging way. Kids are sure to fall in love with Vera, be touched by her story and think about her long after the last page is read.
And here she is. . .
Patricia Polacco belongs to a family of storytellers, poets, farmers, teachers, and artists. They came from many parts of the world, but mainly Russia. She grew up to be an illustrator, a designer and creator of many beloved children's books, including The Keeping Quilt, The Blessing Cup, FIona's Lace, The Trees of the Dancing Goats, Babushka's Doll, and My Rotten Reheaded Older Brother. She lives in Union City, Michigan. Visit her at PatriciaPolacco.com