“The Wizard’s Dog” by Eric Kahn Gale is not just a cute children’s fantasy about a dog rescued by Merlin the famous wizard. It’s also a book about a dog who was rescued and how the dog repaid his rescuer by saving him in turn. Many people comment how the dogs that they rescue really rescue them — this book is an ode to that idea, and the rescuing is literal.
In this cleverly narrated story, Nosewise, the dog rescued from certain starvation by Merlin, finds that he is the only one who can rescue Merlin when he and Morgana, his ward, are kidnapped. As a puppy, Nosewise was taken to be an attack dog, but when he refused to bite, he was abandoned and tied to a tree. He was there for weeks, and almost dead from starvation when Merlin happened by. It’s no wonder that Nosewise is as loyal to Merlin as he is. Merlin is also loving and kind — the perfect companion for Nosewise.
In the real world, the author shared his dog’s story with Shelter Me:
“He was from Chicago Canine Rescue and, in addition to sharing a lot of traits with Nosewise, I tried to allude to his rescue story. Bowser was abandoned by his Southern Illinois family when their house and farm was foreclosed on. They left him in the barn with an empty food and water dish after they left the property, and officials from the bank found him. If you notice, I mention that Nosewise’s previous owner had abandoned him in a similar way. “
It’s a fantasy in more ways than one. Not only is the story filled with magic and fairy folk, but it’s also filled with the very real fantasy that dog lovers face every day. The wish that their dogs could communicate with them. What would our dogs tell us? What was their history before we rescued them? In this story, Nosewise not only gets the chance to talk to his humans, we get to hear him tell the story!
The story includes Arthur, the young boy who believes in this faithful dog so much that he follows him into an alternative world. The twist at the end with the sword in the stone is priceless. Here’s hoping that there will be a sequel. Nosewise is too great a character to stay in only one book.
For animal lovers, several of Eric Kahn Gale’s books deserve a read. In the Author’s Note at the end of this book, he writes about the themes of his books:
“My second book, The Zoo at the Edge of the World” asked what kind of relationship humans should have with animals and whether we had the right to control them. After thinking about it for a long while, I believe I finally discovered the profound theme of this book too.
Dogs are the best.
They just are. Dogs, in my opinion, are the greatest things humans have besides each other. For the last 50,000 years, dogs have been by our sides as protectors, helpers, advisors, and buds.
My dog, Bowser, is one of my closest friends. He was my inspiration for Nosewise and dutifully sat next to me every day of my writing, providing comfort and support. I hope the you, dear reader, have a dog like that in your life. If you don’t, there are plenty of wonderful animals in shelters right now, literally this very second, waiting for their chance to have a happy home.”
Kids (and adults) will love this story. It’s a perfect book to read aloud at nighttime or in a classroom. It’s a perfect book to recommend for any fantasy-lover or dog lover.
And for those who love this book, there will be more! Gale is hard at work penning the continuing adventure of Nosewise and his friends. He promises that this sequel will be even more fantastical than the first book.
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by the publisher, Crown Books, for review purposes.