Saturday, 27 July 2019

Le Chien Qui Ne Voulait Pas Sourire by Stephen Bly

Le Chien Qui Ne Voulait Pas Sourire by Stephen Bly
First published as The Dog Who Would Not Smile by Crossway Books in America in 1992. French language translation by Michele Schneider published by Dynamots in 1995.

One of my Books In French and a 2019 COYER Summer Hunt read

How I got this book:
Swapped for at a book exchange

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

De plus en plus inquiet, Nathan court d'un bâtiment vide à l'autre. Où sont-ils tous? Comment était-ce possible que toute la population d'une ville entière disparaisse?

Dans le bureau de poste abandonné, des sacs de courrier encore fermés s'entassent partout ... Son appréhension grandit alors qu'il parcourt les piles de lettres. La voilà, la lettre pour ses parents annonçant son arrivée. Pas étonnant qu'ils ne l'aient pas attendu ici, à Willow Creek. Que faire maintenant? Pourquoi Dieu ne s'occupe-t-il pas mieux de lui?

I read Le Chien Qui Ne Voulait Pas Sourire (The Dog Who Would Not Smile) in a French edition because I spotted a copy at a Little Library book exchange and felt that the book's target age group (8-12 year olds) would be compatible with my level of French fluency. As it turned out this was pretty much exactly the case and, while the early chapters were slower going because I had to frequently look up words in my trusty Harraps dictionary (a diligence is a stagecoach, armoise is wormwood), by the later chapters I was fairly rattling through the pages and excited to find out how this first instalment of Nathan's story would finish.

Nathan T Riggins is a somewhat precocious twelve year old city boy who finds himself unexpectedly alone in a small Wild West town when his diligence abruptly curtails its journey. His intended destination, Willow Creek, where he should have been reunited with his parents, apparently has been deserted. No one is waiting to meet him and he finds himself reliant almost completely on his own resources. Through a series of entertaining (if not always completely plausible) adventures, Nathan learns a lot about himself and about life. I would have loved blithely losing myself in this tale as a child and also enjoyed it as an adult, although from a more pragmatic and, sadly, more cynical standpoint so I couldn't accept every event at face value! The characters are fun, if a little stereotypical, and Bly's descriptions of the vast wild landscapes are beautifully evocative. I felt like I just wanted to saddle up and go exploring too. Well, until the sandstorms started anyway!

I appreciated that this book had a satisfactory sense of closure so it is a standalone story, but with the potential for a series to continue - which it does. The books are marketed as Christian stories, but I was relieved that this one doesn't evangelise. While Nathan's faith is important to him, I could understand his beliefs without feeling hectored to share them. I probably won't search out the further books as I'm not strongly moved to follow more of Nathan's life, but would pick up another of the rare translated editions when I spot one, if only to find out how much Wild West vocabulary I'd retained!

Etsy Find!
by Haleys Hound Haus in
Texas, USA

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Books by Stephen Bly / Children's books / Books from America