4 out of 4 stars
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Hunting trials. Dogs. A blue butterfly. Pookas. A little romance. You'll find all that and more in Rooster: A Field Trial Fable by Edward Pontacoloni.
Rooster is a breed of dog that isn't usually good for hunting, at least not in competition with setters and pointers. Mike, his owner, is a young man who knows little about hunting, dogs, or field trialing. Luckily, though, he runs across Tom Quinn, who knows everything there is to know about the subject. It doesn't hurt that a beautiful girl works with Tom training dogs. At first, Tom doesn't think much of Rooster; but, with the help of a blue butterfly, Rooster shows potential, even as a "mongrel breed." Will Tom be able to make something out of Mike and his dog?
When I read the description of this book, I was a bit concerned. I know nothing about hunting dog trials, and it seems odd to add in fairies or sprites. I was pleasantly surprised, though, and I found myself glad to have picked it up.
The author made the book accessible to all by not being too technical with the details. Everything is explained in terms that the average person can understand. The reader might even learn a thing or two by the end of the book.
Furthermore, Mr. Pontacoloni allows the dogs to speak for themselves at various places in the novel. This was my favorite part of the book. It really helped me to picture the personality of Rooster and the other animal characters. It was especially poignant because we get the same events from two different perspectives - animal and human. This is reason enough to recommend the story.
The book is told by a narrator close to the story. It honestly felt like talking to a friend and getting a firsthand account. At one point, the narrator even asks the reader if he or she wants a glass of chocolate milk or a cookie. It made the story personable, engaging, and light-hearted.
That's not all, however. The author has vivid descriptions that allow the reader to have an immersive experience. For example, "...all along adjacent fallow fields of the stubby remains of last year's corn, the color of ocean driftwood..." It's a well-written story.
There were only a few small issues. First, there are a lot of characters introduced early on in the story, and it takes some time to get to know them all. Secondly, I didn't know who the narrator was right away. I would've liked it if the narrator introduced himself earlier in the story.
Since my complaints were minor and didn't interrupt the flow of the story, I give Rooster: A Field Trial Fable 4 out of 4 stars. It would be appropriate even for younger audiences, like middle schoolers, to adults. If you enjoy animals and flights of fancy, this is for you. If you're looking for something more intense and suspenseful, you'll want to skip this one.
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