First Dog Fala


First Dog Fala, by Elizabeth Van Steenwyk, has something for everyone: The dog lover, the history buff, the hard worker who spends evenings alone, and the child who loves a good old-fashioned picture book with big, beautiful illustrations.

Written with a big dose of warmth and a fondness for “the good old days,” Van Steenwyk weaves the delightful tale of just how a hairy, scrappy, somewhat mouthy Scottish terrier managed to capture the heart of the most powerful man in the free world in 1940…and win the loyalty of a country at war.

Of course, every cake needs its icing, and artist Michael G. Montgomery’s illustrations make for the perfect topping for this story. From the majestic portrait of a 1940’s Whitehouse to the moving sketch of a lonely little Fala gazing at President Roosevelt’s empty chair, Montgomery’s illustrations recreate the picturesque lifestyle of days long past, and the undying love between a president and his faithful dog.

This one is highly recommended for children and adults alike.


I read and reviewed this delightful book while roasting under a beauty shop hair dryer. As I wrote my review, a young girl of eight or nine who broiled under her own dryer craned her neck to see the illustrations. Finally she said, “Is that your book? Can I see?” I handed it over, and my enthusiasm for this little gem was confirmed as I watched her thumb through the pages with a delighted expression, mouthing the words as she went. Then she gave the book back to me, waited a few moments…and asked to see it again.

Well done, Elizabeth and Michael!


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