‘Courageous Canine!’: A National Geographic Kids nonfiction chapter book

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Rating: 4 1/2 stars

“Courageous Canine!” combines everything kids love to read about — exciting adventures, wonderful animals, daring rescues. It’s a small, picture-filled chapter book about amazing animal heroes. The stories show how animals can love and help humans — often putting their own lives at risk to do so.

The first story will bring a tear to even the most hard-hearted. It’s the story of a rescued pit bull, Lilly. Lilly was out walking late at night with Christine, her rescuer’s mother, when the woman fainted on a set of railroad tracks. A train was approaching. Lilly tried everything to wake Christine, licking her, pawing at her, whining. Finally, Lilly dragged Christine off the tracks and then wrapped her own body around Christine’s to protect her.

The train’s engineer said he heard the train hit something and was sure that both dog and human would be dead. He was shocked to find, once the train had managed to stop, that the woman was unharmed. Lilly, however, was grievously injured.

What happened next and how Lilly recovered continues a story already heavy with emotion. It’s a testament to the kind of love and devotion that can cross species. And the next story continues that theme.

Dolphins who have rescued people from shark attacks are also featured. The truly amazing stories are thrilling to read, but they don’t make this reader want to venture into shark-infested waters.

And last is the story that inspired its own book — the story of Roscoe and Suryia — a coonhound and orangutan who are best friends. Theirs is a story as unique and wonderful as many others not included in this book — a bear in a zoo who befriended a cat, a gorilla with a pet kitten, and a cheetah and a dog.

Please note: This review is based on the final paperback book provided by the publisher, National Geographic Kids, for review purposes.