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FIRST DOG FALA by Elizabeth Van Steenwyk


by Elizabeth Van Steenwyk & illustrated by Michael G. Montgomery

Age Range: 6 - 10

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-56145-411-2
Publisher: Peachtree

Fala has to be one of the best known of presidential pets, the dedicated companion of Franklin Roosevelt throughout the World War II years of his presidency. The Scottish terrier was presented to Roosevelt as a puppy and outlived him by several years, but this effort follows Fala just through the end of Roosevelt’s life, making the book more a brief biography of the president during the war than of his pet. Each spread contains a few paragraphs of text accompanied by Montgomery’s quick pencil vignettes and a large, Fala-centered oil-on-canvas illustration, rendered in warm, muted colors that capture the somber mood of the times. Fala is charming in the illustrations, although those that show Roosevelt don’t quite capture his facial appearance. As a very brief biography, the book works well: The inclusion of the pet story makes it palatable for younger readers who aren’t looking for a history lesson, but it also decreases the amount of information that can be included about Roosevelt. Taken together, an engaging package. (Informational picture book. 6-10)