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by Michal Babay ; illustrated by Ela Smietanka

Pub Date: April 1st, 2021
ISBN: 978-0-8075-3631-5
Publisher: Whitman

A well-trained service dog can be a loyal friend as well as a lifesaver.

Chewie the blue poodle already has his person picked out. “Every dog needs a person, and Alice is mine. Almost.” Chewie just has to brush up on a few details of his training and learn to hold his natural doggy exuberance in check. He is learning a highly specialized skill: the ability to detect minute quantities of gluten in foods so he can alert his owner of its presence. This ability will protect Alice, a young White girl who has celiac disease and gets sick if she ingests even a tiny amount of gluten, which is found in certain grains. Training is hard. There are so many distractions for a young dog: a bug, a bird, another dog—not to mention actual food on the ground. A visit from a distraught Alice persuades Chewie to stay as focused as he can in order to graduate from training school. Finally they can be together and Alice can feel safe. Based on the author’s experience with her daughter, who has celiac, the story is told in first person by Chewie. His bouncy narration is punctuated with excited statements in a large, italicized font to indicate both the distractions he encounters and his resolve to avoid them. It’s illustrated in a lively, colorful, cartoonish style, with diversity well represented among the trainers and Alice’s classmates.

This good-hearted book makes a serious subject fun and interesting.

(author’s note, further information) (Picture book. 4-8)