Monday, April 20, 2009

Stickeen: John Muir and the Brave Little Dog

Title: Stickeen: John Muir and the Brave Little Dog
Author: John Muir, as retold by Donnell Rubay
Illustrator: Christopher Canyon
Publisher: Dawn Publications
Genre: Nonfiction
Ages: 4 to 12
Rating: 5 paws out of 5
Available at:,, and the publisher

Synopsis: In this true tale, John Muir both gives and receives the miracle of friendship from Stickeen, a small camp dog big in the lessons of life. John Muir, a man of rare character was known to have often told this tale of a dangerous trip exploring Taylor glacier in Alaska with Stickeen. Donnell Rubay edited the actual words of John Muir and has kept the spirit and rhythm of his 19th century dialogue intact. This story begs to be read aloud with character. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Stickeen's lessons, like any really good story are on many levels. This country owes so much to the foresight and extraordinary influence of John Muir. Stickeen is beautifully illustrated by the award winning Christopher Canyon. Canyon captured the body stances of little Stickeen quite well.

The Trainer's View: This is a true story of the bonding experience of both dog and man. In the beginning, Stickeen is aloof and independent, bonded to no one human in the camp. While sharing a treacherous journey over the day, the little dog accepts John Muir as leader. Muir sees Stickeen's emotions and realizes the responsibility of a caregiver. The famed naturalist may not have needed a lesson in the connectedness with nature that dogs bring us, but it appears his heart was deeply touched by Stickeen. As he wrote, “I have ever since been looking with deeper sympathy into all my fellow mortals.” Is this not the best we can strive to be?

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