Between the Covers
Modern-day fable is compelling
By Mary Burns
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
By David Wroblewski
A mesmerizing book begins "In the year 1919, Edgar's grandfather, who was born with an extra share of whimsy ..."
This well-constructed opening invites readers to follow the path of words into the interior of a tale being laid out like a finely spread meal.
Mr. Sawtelle's whimsy leads him to selective breeding of a line of dogs that will bear his surname. His son continues this tradition, with his wife ensuring it by thoroughly training their dogs before they agree to sell them to carefully-selected new owners. Into this routine of selection and caring is born their mute child, Edgar Sawtelle. Followed and protected by the dog Almondine, he develops his own way of speaking. With this sign language he communicates with his parents and his dog, eventually helping to train the dogs they raise.
David Wroblewski is a masterful storyteller, superbly illustrating his scenes with choice phrasing. Selections from this tale could be included in a new set of fables, as when Edgar and Almondine come upon a ferocious animal in the woods and she shields the boy with her body while staring down the animal. Wroblewski's message is that "Sometimes you looked the thing in the eye and it turned away."
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is a necessary read for animal lovers and for anyone with the foresight to read a future classic.
Mary Burns is owner of The BookWORKS in downtown Marysville and online at www.marysvillebookworks.com.