A dog's courage by W. Bruce Cameron

cover image

This is an awesome story! Although I am usually not attracted to animal stories, this book won me over and I can see why previous books by this author have been made into movies. In this story the central canine character - Bella, and her humans - Lucas and Olivia, are confronted by a traumatic forest fire experience. The tension of escape and survival is communicated so ably by Bella as first they catapult their vehicle into a forest lake and then work with a small team to rescue abandoned animals in a small-town animal shelter which is right in the path of the devastating fire front. Later, Bella is reacquainted with an old friend named Big Kitten, a cougar that Bella had befriended in a previous adventure. In this book Bella and Big Kitten are joined by Big Kitten’s own offspring in escaping multiple threats in the changed environment. There is action aplenty as the post-fire world presents all manner of difficulties and yet Bella always is drawn to her inner call of the love of her humans and the desire to “come home”.

This is not a children’s story, it is powerfully written and with great tension, despite the naive perspective of Bella as the narrative voice. With adult human participants and life-threatening dangers communicated with profound skill, the audience for this book should be at least 13+, but adults will also enjoy the tale. This is a book that you cannot put down, from the prologue that reveals a horrific backstory to the awful wildfire, all the way through the interactions between humans under stress and wild animal attacks. There are many moments of tension in the book, but the voice of Bella also reveals some humorous insights into a dog’s life. Overall, underlying this dramatic tale is a simple story of the love of a dog for his human companions (and his Cougar friends) and the lengths that each will go to in order to be reacquainted.

Themes: Animal story, Survival, Forest fire, Animal-Human relationship.

Carolyn Hull