Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Chester and Gus by Cammie McGovern - ESSENTIAL

McGovern, Cammie Chester and Gus, 249 pgs. Harper Collins, 2017. $16.99. Language: G (0 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: G; Violence: G.  

Chester is trained to be an assistance animal, but his reaction to a sudden clap of thunder caused him to fail his final test - so he isn’t certified as a service dog. Gus is an autistic 5th grader.  He doesn’t communicate and last year at school was really difficult.  His mother, Sara, is concerned that they will need to send him to a residential school for kids with special needs, so she’s desperate for this year to work.  So, she and her husband Marc acquire Chester hoping that he will become a companion and helper for Gus.  Unfortunately, Gus is afraid of Chester.  When Sara proposes Chester be allowed to come to school with Gus - to help him try to socialize better a bond begins to grow between the boy and the dog, and Chester discovers he has special skills to help Gus.  

Narrated by Chester (the dog) this is a gripping, sweet story about a dog who has found his “person” and wants to do his job.  The author gives a lot of insight into the difficulty of working with an autistic child.  A perfect upper elementary read, and I think as a dog story it will also do well in Middle School.  


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