The Villa Dog
by Ruth G. Zavitsanos
(Wild Child Publishing)
Review by Heather Bitzer
This is a sweet, sweet, sweet book! (Did I mention that it was sweet?) Uniquely told from a dog’s point of view, The Villa Dog, by Chester County author Ruth G. Zavitsanos, introduces young readers to Sole, a sensitive, loyal canine who befriends families vacationing in his master’s Tuscan villa.
“My master had told me that spreading happiness is what I do best.” Sole tells us. “If I gave happiness to all of those who stayed at the villa by protecting them and being there when they wanted to hug or pat me then I’d always be welcome here.”
And this remains Sole’s motivation throughout the tale. It’s not as easy as it sounds though, especially when a young girl named Issy is so very sad! Sole makes it his mission to get to the bottom of Issy’s sadness, believing his failure to make her smile will disappoint his beloved master.
The Villa Dog was a hit in our house, and as pictured above, went right into our favorite books basket! (Also home to Guess How Much I Love You? Little House and all of the other books that make Mommy cry!) I read The Villa Dog by myself in one thirty minute sitting, and then brought it up for my daughter’s bed time that night.
At only two and a half, she’s much younger than the book’s intended reader so I wasn’t sure how she’d respond. She immediately fell in love with the smiling golden retriever on the cover, naming him “Lucy” after her grandparents’ dog. I felt the author would find this little tid-bit cute. In the book Sole often has his name changed by visiting children! We ended up enjoying The Villa Dog together in about five sittings. Every page or so she’d ask to flip back to the front to see Sole/Lucy’s face!
It’s a chapter book, great independent reading for the early elementary or even middle grade reading level, but as I found with my little one, it’s a story for all ages! Picture wise, it has an inviting cover and a few beautifully sketched drawings peppered throughout. The language is simple, but the feelings are complex. I marveled at the ease with which Zavitsanos “speaks dog.”
I think it was her use of the doggie point of view that really captured us. Zavitsanos’ style and Sole’s thoughts make for a warm, engaging and just plain cozy read! A word of caution though… If you’re on the “no” side of a Mom, can we get a dog? battle, Sole just might make you change your mind!
The Villa Dog is available locally at Borders in Exton, Chester County Bookstore in West Chester, Wolfgang Books in Phoenixville, Wellington Square Books in Eagle and at Wegmans in Downingtown, Collegeville and Malvern. It is also available online through Amazon and the author’s website at http://www.ruthzonline.com/
*Heather was provided a copy of this book to facilitate this review. No other compensation was provided.