December 2016

‘Bertie’s Gift’ by Hannah Coates

Bertie is alone, devastated after his beloved sister and fellow beagle Molly is adopted, leaving him behind. When Bertie is taken in by the Green family, it seems he’s finally found a place to call home…

Yet Bertie swiftly realises that the kind and loving Green family is in crisis. After a tragedy two years ago, they’ve never recovered – and as Christmas approaches, grief is pulling them apart.

Never has a four-legged friend been more in need – and brave, warm-hearted Bertie must rise to the challenge. Can he enlist the help of hostile felines Kitty and Rico to help him find Molly – and can he bring the Green family back together again, all in time for Christmas?

I must admit that when I first read the synopsis of this book I wasn’t sure that I would be strong enough to read it.  I know, I know I am a big softie but when it comes to dogs it doesn’t take me long to start crying if I see or read something happening to one.  I have two loopy Labradors girlies myself and it bothers me if anything bothers them so to speak.  Then I told myself that I had to be strong and that it was fiction.  Armed with a box of tissues and a bar of chocolate (my comfort food), I sat down to read the book.  Boy oh boy am I glad I read it.

Bertie and Molly are particularly close pupsters and go to live with an elderly couple but when circumstances change Bertie and Molly find themselves in the local dog shelter.  Bertie is devastated when both he and Molly are adopted by separate households.  (I must admit that at this point my eyes suddenly became a bit damp but then I admit I am a wimp).  Bertie tries to do everything he can to get back to Molly but as to whether or not he manages to find her you really will have to read the book.

Bertie is adopted by the lovely Green family and Granny M.  It’s not giving too much away to say that Mrs. Green sadly passed away from cancer two years previously and the whole household are still grieving.  (At this point I had to reach for a tissue as it reminded me of when we sadly lost my father to leukaemia a fortnight before Christmas).  Mr. Green and his young son, Sam are doing the British way and going for the stiff upper lip in public (& to each other) and both are making the mistake of not talking to each other to tell each other just how they feel and what is bothering them.  This lack of discussion between the two of them is slowly but surely driving a wedge between them and they are growing further and further apart.  As to whether or not they manage to repair their relationship you really will have to read the book.

Bertie- well what can you say about him?  He is one cheeky pupster, who thinks that he knows it all.  I know that my youngest Labrador, Daisydoo is a different breed to Bertie but Bertie’s behaviours really did remind me of Daisydoo.  Bertie cares and once he has got rid of some ‘puppy power’ (to borrow a phrase from a doggy friend of mine Hugo Huggins), he does what he can to try to help the Green family and Granny M.  He gets involved in some really daft things and he can also be rather naughty but once he gives you those puppy dog eyes, you are putty in his paws.  Bertie (& my Daisydoo) like to see people getting along and love to bring some laughter to the party so to speak.  Neither of them stop until they make sure that everything is ok.

I really did love this book and laughed (& at times blubbed) at the antics of Bertie and his ‘Paw Print Club’.  In Bertie’s band of Merrymen there is a dog from next door called Pepper and two cats belonging to the Green family called Kitty and Rico and of course, Molly will be enlisted into the group if they manage to find her.  Two of the messages given out throughout the book is ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ and ‘don’t assume that everything is as it first seems’.  The book is well written and you can tell that a dog lover wrote it as the descriptions of the various behaviours and antics certainly seemed authentic.  The only thing I would pick a fault with is the fact that Mr. Green feeds Bertie (or allows Bertie to pinch some mince pies).  Now people shouldn’t do that as mince pies are toxic to dogs and can cause serious injury if not death.

In short then, I LOVED this book and would award it 4* out of 5*.  The end of the book left the way open for a sequel and I sincerely hope that we get to read more about Bertie, the Green family (including Granny M) and Molly.  I would definitely recommend this book to anybody.

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