Trained To Travel

The first time you saw the puppy, you knew your life would change in more ways than you ever would have thought possible regardless of how many dogs have been in your life.  The energy, the looks, the intense pauses to listen, and the nose constantly in the air or to the ground sensing messages in each experience are new every single time.  Puppies and adult dogs have personalities as varied as humans, but one thing is certain, their love is unconditional and unbreakable.

By their very nature canines bring certain attributes into a relationship.  Their heightened senses, especially their hearing and smelling, are invaluable.  When dogs have been trained in addition to their already remarkable characteristics, the attachment they form with their human is close to miraculous.  Readers first met an extraordinary Golden retriever in Tuesday Tucks Me In: The Loyal Bond between a Soldier and His Service Dog (Roaring Brook Press, May 27, 2014).  Authors Luis Carlos Montalvan, former Captain USA and Bret Witter and photographer Dan Dion collaborate again to give readers Tuesday Takes Me There: The Healing Journey of a Veteran and his Service Dog (Post Hill Press, June 14, 2016). 

This morning, like every morning, my friend Luis wakes up to this.

This is an up-close and personal look at the face of Tuesday, Luis's Golden retriever service dog.  Tuesday tells us of Luis's condition, PTSD, a result of his military service in the Iraq War.  They are leaving the home of another veteran, a friend in New York City.  It's important for Luis to be near friends because strange places and crowds are still hard for him.

Today Tuesday and Luis have a special appointment to keep.  To arrive on time, they will travel on land, over water and in the air.  Their first stop is a ferry, a boat which crosses between Staten Island and Manhattan.  During their ride many different kinds of vessels come into view as well as one very important Lady.  

Once they reach Manhattan they travel on a bus.  It's a bit too slow for Tuesday.  Now walking in the city they see sights from the ground level.  Then it's up, up and away, seeing the same things from the sky.  As the day progresses they whiz along on the subway and enjoy a carriage ride courtesy of Bruno, a well-loved horse.  

Ever vigilant Tuesday leads Luis through crowds with his leash and down stairs with a special harness.  Finally they board a train which takes them to a completely new place, Washington, D. C.  They meet an elected official at the Capitol building and take a rest while gazing at the world's tallest obelisk.  They have still not reached their destination.

More sights seen, more walking and another ride by double decker bus bring them closer.  A red convertible, a covered bridge, a field of flowers and a cool clear stream are parts of their continuing journey.  When Tuesday and Luis reveal their trip's purpose to readers, smiles signal mission accomplished.


In the first sentence Luis Carlos Montalvan and Bret Witter acquaint readers with the closeness between Luis and Tuesday.  In a narrative geared for younger readers in Tuesday's voice we understand how Tuesday works for Luis and the dog's incredible focus in a large city.  We learn how people can move from New York City to Washington D.C. to a community in Maryland by describing more than ten types of transportation.  Short captions tell us about points of interest in all three places; Staten Island, the Statue of Liberty, Freedom Tower, Union Station and Loys Station Covered Bridge to name some of them.  Here is a sample passage.

We find our seat on the Amtrak train.  Luis makes a comfy place for me.  I did a good job taking care of him, so he takes care of me.  It's his way of showing he loves me.
I put my paw on his foot to tell him I love him too.

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

We're here!  But, where is here?


The illustrations in this title, photographs by Dan Dion, take readers right into the action.  On the matching dust jacket and book case Tuesday's dedication and willingness to lead Luis is captured perfectly.  To the left, on the back, an image from the interior shows Luis and Tuesday resting on steps in Washington, D. C. overlooking the Reflecting Pool and Washington Monument.  The rich red from the title text is used as the color on the opening and closing endpapers.  On the title page, Luis in full uniform with his medals is seated next to Tuesday who is holding Luis's cane in his mouth.  It's a portrait of love.

Each illustration closely follows the journey of Luis and Tuesday.  The size and perspective varies throughout the book.  Some of the shots are from behind them with a panoramic view of a place, others are close to the two as they ride or walk and sometimes only Tuesday is shown in a particular setting.  The clarity, composition and lighting of the visuals are outstanding.  Dion conveys every mood and moment beautifully.  

One of my favorite pictures is of Tuesday and Luis seated in the helicopter.  Luis, wearing a headset, is looking out the window at the harbor and the Statue of Liberty below them.  Tuesday, wearing his Service K-9 harness, is looking at Luis.  


Tuesday Takes Me There:  The Healing Journey of a Veteran and his Service Dog written by Luis Carlos Montalvan, former Captain USA, with Bret Witter and photographs by Dan Dion provides an intimate look for readers of the work done by a service dog and the connection formed with their human.  This book also gives us a glimpse at two large cities, transportation within these cities and to and from them as well as places of interest.  Closing with a poem and the dedication makes this title a fine, fine choice for the classrooms and libraries.  

To learn more about Luis Carlos Montalvan, Bret Witter and Dan Dion and their other work please visit their websites by following the links attached to their names.  There is a website dedicated solely to Tuesday Takes Me There:  The Healing Journey of a Veteran and his Service Dog.  At a publisher's website you can view interior images and read more of the narrative. 




Please take a moment to visit Kid Lit Frenzy hosted by educator Alyson Beecher to see the other titles chosen by bloggers participating in the 2016 Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge.




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