cover image Strongheart: Wonder Dog of the Silver Screen

Strongheart: Wonder Dog of the Silver Screen

Candace Fleming, illus. by Eric Rohmann. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-101-93410-4

Based on a true story, this absorbing novel from the duo behind Giant Squid and other books introduces Strongheart, a German shepherd that worked as a police dog in Germany until his discovery by Hollywood director Larry Trimble in the early 1920s. Trimble had long been searching for a “smart, expressive, dramatic dog” to star in a silent film; after traveling all the way to Europe to find the right dog, he knew that Strongheart fit the bill. Rohmann’s arresting oil paintings (like Strongheart’s movies, they’re in black and white) are a vibrant part of the storytelling, illuminating Strongheart’s expressiveness and intelligence; in one sequence, Rohmann brings readers into a darkened theater to witness Strongheart’s on-screen heroics in his first film, The Last Call, which became a box-office hit and catapulted the dog to superstardom. The collaborators also spotlight a softer side of Strongheart as he befriends orphaned boys and starts a family with his canine leading lady. An excellent afterword delves into greater detail about Strongheart’s life, including the fact that only one of his films survived. Ages 8–12. Agent: Ethan Ellenberg, Ethan Ellenberg Agency. (Feb.)