I was once bit on the nose by a dachshund and needed several stitches. My nose ballooned up to about triple its size. I was a teenager at the time and was soooooooo embarrassed because my Mom made me go to school despite the fact that thanks to a dachshund I looked like a clown. That’s important for you to know before I offer my review of Larry Verstraete’s new middle grade novel Coop the Great. The main character is……… you guessed it……… a dachshund. You have to understand that I am not really a dog person and in particular not a dachshund lover.
So the fact I enjoyed Larry‘s book despite my lack of affinity for canines should be an indication of just how good a story it is. The novel taught me some very interesting things about dogs and I was amazed at how Larry was able to consistently let us see the world from a dog’s perspective.
Coop is an aging pet who struggles with health issues and some past problems with the families who have offered him a home. In that regard he is not unlike his owner Mike who is getting on in years and is dealing with cancer and heart issues. Mike has lost his wife, and is worried about his daughter Jess and his grandchildren Zach and Emma who are being threatened by an abusive husband and father.
Coop enters Mike’s life from a dog shelter and when author Larry Verstraete launched his book at McNally Robinson this month he had a special guest, a dog named Darnold from D’arcy’s ARC,a Winnipeg shelter much like the one in the book.
Larry is a member of my writers’ group. I respect Larry and am inspired by his success. Coop the Great is his seventeenth published book for children. I am lucky I get to benefit from his expertise and experience with regards to my own work on a regular basis. I was honored to have my name mentioned in the book’s afterword as Larry acknowledged the input he receives from our writing group.
In some ways Coop reminded me of The Littlest Hobo a television series about a dog that was popular when I was about ten years old- the age of Larry’s target audience for his book. Coop proves to be every bit as daring and brave as The Littlest Hobo but I liked him more than my childhood television hero. Coop is such a colorful, quirky and interesting character.
On the cover of Larry’s book Coop has some ear buds wrapped around his neck. It’s a clue to the exciting climax of the story that will leave you on the edge of your seat. Although Coop is definitely the novel’s main protagonist the story is also about Mike’s grandson Zack and the way he deals with his difficult family situation. That was a helpful thing for me to read about in reference to the work I do with children, and I am sure other adults in similar professions will feel the same way.
Larry’s book Coop the Great is an interesting, exciting and inspiring read even if you aren’t a dog lover.