Friday, April 24, 2015

Book Review: Angus and Sadie (again but different)(Border Collies, Maine farm, children)

Angus and Sadie, by Cynthia Voigt, Newbery medalist (Harper Collins, 2005, 194 pages, ages 8-12, paperback – 2008)

Written by Newbery medalist Cynthia Voigt, Angus and Sadie is a wonderfully fun, heart-warming story for both adults and children, so, here are different book reviews for each. Children first, yesterday, and now, the review for adults.

Easy Read for Adults, but Substantial

Every so often, I suggest to adults who don’t read much, that they might consider wandering into the children’s book section of their library or bookstore, and come out with a few easy-reading books (for their children, of course, or their nieces and nephews, or grandkids [but really for themselves]). It is so much fun to get back into the habit of reading and exploring new worlds and new people and new ideas, if you start out easy. Even picture books will do.

Angus and Sadie are two Border Collie mixes from the same litter that Mister and Missus adopted from their Maine animal shelter. Though I had visions of Mister and Missus being grandparents for most of the book, the addition of a new family member at the tail end of the story told me they are young, as did the huge amount of farm work they both accomplished.

Angus quickly becomes the right-hand ‘man’ of Mister, while laid-back Sadie mostly keeps Missus company and helps in the house and garden.

The dogs actually ‘talk’ in their book, though it took me a while to realize that their words/thoughts are the ones in italics. It was easy to figure out whose words are Angus’ and which words are Sadie’s because the two characters are so well developed: Angus is like a big brother who is always right (even when he is wrong) while Sadie lets most things just roll off her back.

I love how the chapters tell you just what will happen but leave you wanting to know how. For example, one chapter is “How Missus, Angus, and Sadie harvest blueberries, while Mister harvests hay and Fox harvests a rat.” (Fox is a cat.)

Angus is a tough-skinned canine and is trained with an old-fashioned choke chain (even though the book came out in 2005), but Sadie just doesn’t understand why Mister is hurting her in the name of training so she stops trying to learn and even runs out of sight. Eventually Missus tries pushing down on her rump to get a “sit” and that works. I sincerely hope that if Angus and Sadie is rewritten, that the training methods will be shaping, capturing, luring or targeting with treats instead of the old-fashioned force-based methods.

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