Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

To Serve

As the runt of the litter, Xena was extremely small as a puppy, needing to be fed three times a day.  My elementary principal allowed me to keep her in my office at school bringing her out to be with the children during story time.  Even today the sight of the school causes her to bark and twirl with happiness.

As much as she enjoys being with the children, the transformation in them when she is present is a sight to see.  Their goodness shines on their faces and in their actions when she is with them.  It's an exchange of the very best kind.  Tuesday Tucks Me In: The Loyal Bond between a Solider and his Service Dog (Roaring Brook Press, May 27, 2014) written by former captain Luis Carlos Montalvan, USA, with Bret Witter and photographs by Dan Dion tells the true story of the unbreakable bond between these two friends.

In the morning, every morning, 
my friend Luis wakes up to...


This happens to be a close-up picture of the Golden Retriever Tuesday, with large caring eyes and soft brown nose.  Narrator of the book Tuesday explains the time spent with his human companion, Luis, beginning with a doggie lick and a hug given in return.  By habit the dog brings his dish to the kitchen for breakfast as well as Luis's socks and shoes. 

Tuesday continues with an account of Luis's service in the war (Iraq) elaborating on his nightmares during the day and at night.  He provides comfort and calm to the man; always near him, always walking by his right side.  They go everywhere together, two halves of a better whole.

Visits to the veterans hospital, trips to the city park (extra playful when Tuesday's service dog vest is removed), journeys down the stairs to the subway, or even rides at an amusement park on a sandy beach are only a handful of the things these partners share.  In the evening they can be seen eating dinner, watching videos, answering emails and playing with Tuesday's favorite toys.  In this extraordinary relationship of give-and-take, Luis in turn brushes Tuesday's fur and teeth, and cleans his ears and paws.  Hugs, prayers and the peaceful sleep of unparalleled pals close the day and this book.

Together since 2008 Luis Carlos Montalvan knows Tuesday like no other human.  In 2011 the title written for adults, Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him hit The New York Times Bestseller list for several weeks. In this book Montalvan and Bret Witter write for a younger audience using conversational short sentences, bringing in meaningful details important to children.  Here is an example with Tuesday talking about how he helps Luis when they are in the subway.

While we wait,
I stand guard.

The subway train
gets crowded.

Very crowded.

Luis doesn't like
crowds. So he hugs
me while we ride.

For a dog lover like myself the photographs on the front and back of the matching dust jacket and book case, melt my heart.  Tuesday looking straight out at you with his foot resting on Luis's foot (note the dog socks) and the two of them sitting side by side with Luis's arm around Tuesday on a rocky beach on the back say more than any words can.  The red of Tuesday's service coat is carried over into the title and opening and closing endpapers.  

For every sentence, mood and moment photographer Dan Dion has taken a picture to intensify the text.  Moving close to his subjects to provide intimacy or backing away to give greater perspective, his gift with the camera is evident.  Some of the illustrations extend edge to edge on a single or double page, some cross the gutter to increase their size to a page and a half, others are framed with fine white lines on a portion of a page, and still more are inset within an existing visual.  Each element of the day(s) is portrayed with warmth; the love between Luis and Tuesday apparent.

One of my favorite pictures is of Luis and Tuesday on the subway.  Luis is seated within the crowd but Tuesday is as close to him as possible; between Luis's two legs.  Luis is bending over hugging Tuesday their faces pressed together.  

There is no doubt in my mind.  Tuesday Tucks Me In: The Loyal Bond between a Soldier and his Service Dog written by Luis Carlos Montalvan with Bret Witter and photographs by Dan Dion is going to be a huge hit with children.  I would definitely plan on getting more than one copy.  It could easily become a part of several different themed units; dogs, service dogs, soldiers at home or human and animal relationships.  Luis speaks further about their relationship in an author's note at the end.

Please follow the links embedded in the authors' and the photographer's names to access their websites.  Follow this link to the publisher's website to see eight pages from the book. This is a link to a Pinterest page. 

Each Wednesday I feel fortunate to be a part of the 2014 Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge hosted by Alyson Beecher at Kid Lit Frenzy.  I have discovered many wonderful nonfiction books through this connection. Be sure to see what others have reviewed for this week by following the links at her blog.


  1. I love the added story of xena into this post :)
    I think you're right, children will love to read this book! I'll have to check it out soon!

    1. Thank you, Michele. I am dedicating every post this week to her for being such a good traveling companion the two previous weeks. I hope you get to read it soon.

  2. What a lovely title. Kids would so enjoy this story I can imagine! I love the story about Xena coming for story time. The children must have loved that. At my children's school there are two classrooms with full time dogs! Kids LOVE it.

    1. Carrie,
      It is very well written with careful attention to the intended audience. Kids are going to want to read this again and again. The children did love having Xena there. She is still a topic of conversation. Dogs belong with people especially children. I think those classrooms with full time dogs in your children's school are amazing.

  3. Thanks so much for featuring this book. It looks wonderful, inspiring, uplifting, and heartwarming. It brought to mind Cynthia Kadohata's Cracker. Dogs just "know." I love reading about that, and am happy to see Xena mentioned again. :)

  4. I was just thinking that this could be a wonderful companion book to Margarita Engle's recently published Mountain Dog. Will be on the lookout for this one.