Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Book talk: Stay: The True Story of Ten Dogs by Michaela Muntean

A circus stuntman is not supposed to fall off a high wire. Unfortunately, this happened to Luciano Anastasini, but luckily he was not killed. He had been a great circus stunt man and acrobat, but in his fall, he broke so many bones that it took four operation to put him back together. No more stunts. He was too damaged.

So what would he do with his life? He wasn't go to quit the circus: it had always been his whole life.

Luciano had an idea involving other performers: dogs! But where would he get these dogs? He thought and he thought. After all, Luciano was getting a second chance, and he'd choose dogs who needed a second chance, too.

And so many dogs did. Dogs who misbehaved, dogs who had too much energy, and dogs who had been given away by their owners. There were so many dogs who just couldn't find a good home with owners who appreciated their faults and flaws.

My favorites of the ten are Penny and Stick. Poor Penny was adorable, but owners kept returning her, saying she ran in circles and ran into walls and furniture. Stick was a cute stray who was so thin that you could see all his ribs. He was desperate for a good meal.

Luciano figured out Penny's vision problems: she was cross-eyed, but if he trained her properly, she knew where to jump and how to land. Pretty soon, Penny could jump correctly through hoops, amazing audiences. And Stick, with food and love, could be trained to walk on his back legs! The audiences loved all of Luciano's dogs, and each dog had a special skill and a special look. They were great performers, and they always did their best for Luciano. Luciano's ten dogs -- some of whom had been declared untrainable and unloveable -- loved him with all their hearts.

Stay: The True Story of Ten Dogs by Michaela Muntean; photographs by K.C. Bailey and Stephen Kazmierski. Unpaged. Scholastic: 2012. Booktalk to grades 2-6.

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