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Rags: Hero Dog of WWI Review by Audra Silva

Margot Theis Raven
Sleeping Bear Press
315 Eisenhower Parkway Suite 200
Ann Arbor, MI 48108

Rags: Hero Dog of WWI is a hardcover picture book geared to ages 7-10 with a suggested reading level of about grade 4. As soon as you see the cover, you know you are in for a visual treat thanks to illustrator Petra Brown.

Rags is based on a true story about a chance meeting on the streets of Paris between a dirty stray pup and James Donovan, a private in the United States Army. Donovan swooped the stray up and took him back to base. He named the pup Rags because of his scruffy appearance.

At the time, the army didn't have a canine division, but Rags went with Donovan into the battlefield. He became a morale booster to the men, and he also became a valued member of the team. He warned them of incoming shells, helped find breaks in the telephone wires, and ran messages back and forth. He quickly became widely known for his courage and the amazing things he did to help Donovan and the soldiers.

Near the end of the war, during a particularly fierce battle, both Rags and Donovan were wounded. Donovan's wounds were so severe he was sent back to the United States, and Rags refused to leave his side.

This story makes a wonderful read aloud for the whole family. I enjoyed sharing it with my children, although I do have one suggestion. This book needs to come with a warning that it might possibly cause your eyes to tear up and your throat to constrict. My kids found it thoroughly amusing to watch their mama fight through tears to finish the story. It is a heart-warming and beautiful story about the friendship between Rags and his soldier.

Rags: Hero Dog of WWI costs $16.99. I think the price is a little high, but I do think the book would quickly become a family favorite and find a valued place on your bookshelves.

Bottom line, I recommend this book not only for the touching story, but for the glimpse into history at a dog who became a hero because a soldier took a chance on him.

-Product review by Audra Silva, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November 2014