Remembering Vera

Patricia Polacco. S&S/Wiseman, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4814-4227-5
In this moving and loosely autobiographical offering, Polacco (The Mermaid’s Purse) recounts the story of Vera, an “ancient little yellow dog” she met in 1962 while visiting a relative stationed on a Coast Guard base near San Francisco. Polacco describes how the dog was found abandoned, adopted by Coast Guard cadets, and named Vera by a cadet named Davie Bunch. Vera “became a constant fixture in the barracks” and even took part in some intrepid rescues. Polacco’s characteristically conversational prose and emotionally redolent art showcase Vera’s heroic exploits, which included jumping off a cutter to deliver rope to people on a sinking sailboat and leaping into frigid waters to save passengers on a capsized ferry. Polacco herself enters the story in the poignant finale: she was volunteering at the SPCA in Oakland on the day in 1967 that a cadet brought the ailing Vera in to be put to sleep. It’s difficult to say where the story diverts from real life (did Bunch actually exist, for example, or was he invented for this book?), though an afterword details the author’s successful quest to locate Vera’s grave marker. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/07/2017
Release date: 10/03/2017
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