Published May 29th 2018 by Scholastic Inc. (first published May 28th 2018)
Format read: Finished copy
Sassy and Waldo decide to save Stewart. But they don't let dogs into school. So Sassy and Waldo decide to get creative. They put on an old trench coat, and now everyone at Bea Arthur Elementary thinks they are a new student named Salty from Liver, Ohio. Well, everyone except Stewart.
Sassy and Waldo love school! Everything smells like meat and dirty socks. And they discover a whole other way to help out Stewart!
But pure fun aside, Two Dogs in a Trench Coat actually filled a childhood emotional and intellectual yearning that I didn’t realize I still had, until after I finished reading. Because it’s a book that joyfully explores what it means to be able to share your day-to-day life with loved ones in areas they normally can’t follow, and how that very exploration can help open minds, and hearts in a multitude of different ways.
Dogs Waldo and Sassy initially hatch the idea of going to school (in a trench coat!), not just because they dislike being left home alone, but because they also realize their young human - Stewart - isn’t having the best time at school. They feel a sense of obligation to save him, just like they routinely protect the rest of the family from squirrels.
While the majority of the text is delightfully zany - Waldo’s ability to communicate in “human”, leads to some amusing conversations between the adults, and their new “student” from Liver, Ohio - Waldo and Sassy’s willingness to be at school with Stewart, is also meaningful and affirming to any young reader who has struggled with being away from home. Without giving spoilers away, Waldo and Sassy’s approach to student life ultimately helps Stewart come out of his shell, and be bigger and bolder.
It’s a fantastic reminder of how much a person can do when they feel love and support, even if that support sometimes comes from a physical reminder. As someone who once brought her hamster to elementary school, for absolutely no reason but to feel the supportive presence of a pet that loved unconditionally, Waldo and Sassy’s underlying lessons on the importance of support, will likely resonate far with young readers, and their parents/educators alike.
Pure storytelling aside, Falatko’s book is structured in a way that will encourage reading and exploration. The fonts used add to the zany approach of the book, and Falatko’s clever decision to bold all of Waldo and Sassy’s favorite foods, will no doubt cause considerable delight. With Colin Jack’s excellent black and white illustrations to match, this book deserves a place on every shelf.
Highly recommend, full stop. Get this. Relish it. You won't regret it.
About the author
Julie Falatko writes quirky books about misunderstood characters trying to find their place in the world. She is the author of Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book), which was published to four starred reviews and coverage in the New York Times and People magazine. She is also the author of Snappsy the Alligator and His Best Friend Forever (Probably) as well as many more forthcoming books. To learn more about Julie, please visit juliefalatko.com or follow her on Twitter @juliefalatko or on Instagram @julie_falatko.