For the Creative Book Club: “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle” by David Wroblewski

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Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.  ~Roger Caras

I just finished reading a book that has left me transported, moved and hesitant to start a new book because I don’t want to break the spell I’m under!  Have you ever read a book at exactly the right time in you life?  Well, that’s how I felt when I started this magnificent novel.  This book is about so many important things…. family relationships, loyalty, overcoming grief, and especially the important connections we form with our pets.  Having just said good-bye to our beloved seventeen year old Aussie, and adopting a puppy really connected me to this book in a meaningful way.

Unable to speak from birth, Edgar is a special boy who has found a way to feel completely normal helping his family raise and train the unique breed of dogs that they sell.  When tragedy strikes their family, Edgar must rely on his keen instincts, as well as his unshakable bond with his dogs, to seek the truth and find his own way in the world.

Favorite quote from the book:

“So much of the world was governed by chance… Life was a swarm of accidents waiting in the treetops, descending upon any living thing that passed… You swam in a river of chance and coincidence.  You clung to the happiest accidents– the rest you let float by.”  (p. 457)

Creative Book Club Ideas:

Food:  Edgar’s beloved dog, Almondine, is his best friend and protector.  Their bond goes beyond the ordinary.  So, why not choose an almondine recipe to share with your book club members? Simply put, almondine means “Garnished with almond slices.”  If your club enjoys a full meal together, there are numerous almondine recipes for chicken, vegetables or fish.  This one for citrus glazed swordfish almondine looks amazing!  If your club traditionally serves a dessert, try this delicious Strawberry Almondine treat!  OR perhaps you want to recreate the meal that Henry used to “lure” in Edgar and the pups while they watched from the field:  Root beer, baked beans, barbecued brats, potato salad, and lemon meringue pie.  Yummy!

Decor:  One of Edgar’s jobs is naming the new pups.  He relies on his dictionary to help him choose such important names as:  Baboo, Forte, Essay, and Tinder.  For a creative table decoration, take pages from an old dictionary and either remove them from the book or make photocopies to make simple place mats and/or coasters.  Check out this table runner for inspiration!  Or perhaps make some cute candle holders with canine inspired pictures and/or words.

Activity:  Take inspiration from this poster that illustrates different dog breeds and create your own display of dog pictures.  Give a prize to the guest who can identify the most breeds correctly.  OR  Ask guests to bring a picture of their dog  or a special dog they once had and put them on display.  This post from “How Does She” gives some really great ideas!  Be sure to give guests the chance to talk about their special dog(s) and tell a fun story.  Of course, don’t forget to take a look at the author’s website for background information and discussion questions.

Our beloved Hondo enjoying a high mountain lake

Gifts/Favors:  Edgar communicates entirely through sign-language and written notes.  Why not honor this part of the story by giving your book-club friends a token inspired by sign-language such as this charming pendant necklace.

  If you’re crafty, you can order a digital print of these charming images and make your own sign-language charms as favors.  This Etsy find is also a sweet, affordable gift idea – a Scrabble tile pendant that says “I Love You” in sign language.

Final Thoughts:  If you choose this title for your book club, please send me feedback on your discussion and if any of these ideas worked for your group.  I know you will have a lot to discuss, and your members will have several ideas to debate!

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