Most helpful positive review
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Tightly written, a bit silly, and exceptionally charming
on March 31, 2010
I found this book via twitter. I have a goal of reading 43 random books mentioned online and I'm interested in animal stories, so I picked it up. I am usually much more harsh on animal and sci fi books than other books because my expectations are higher. I was pleasantly surprised with this one.
Disclosure: The author's spokesdog and my cat follow each other on Twitter, but we had not spoken that I know of before I told her I was writing a review, and in fact I only decided to write one because I thought the book was good enough to warrant my time. If it had been mediocre or terrible, or if having "Angel" in the title meant it turned out to be some kind of badly conventional after-Sunday-School special starring dogs, I wouldn't have bothered. (I probably wouldn't even have told her I bought it!) On to the review:
In "Angel in Fur Coat", Sparky is unable to concentrate on her tasks as a guardian angel and decides to attend dog classes instead. Her best friend, Bernie, is already in dog school and although Sparky is somewhat of a misfit, she seems ideally suited to her new studies.
In simplest terms, the book follows Sparky's transformation from angel to dog. Dogs are sent to earth to perform certain tasks. Nitwit, for instance, excels at police work in the competency tests and is assigned to become a police dog. Sparky's sense of humor and enthusiasm get her assigned to a family who has lost another beloved dog.
This could easily have turned into some kind of Pollyanna story, but it doesn't. The angels tease each other, there's a little bit of propaganda and bureaucracy in the school work and final assignments, and Sparky's fluency in bird, cat and dolphin seems to get her in more trouble, not less.
Sparky's schooling and the technology involved are imaginative and the characters are well-defined without resorting to stereotyping. The dialogue rings true and there are clever uses of illustrations and typefaces that lend a touch of graphic novel to the layout. Ways historical dogs interacted with humans and the personal stories of dogs who have returned to heaven are woven naturally into the school lessons and dialogue.
Likes: Sparky/Xia has a touch of sarcasm about her that made her inner monologues a delight to read. The depictions of the fallen angels exhibit a lighthearted mischief more than ultimate evil.
Dislikes: When I was about 80% through the book, I realized there weren't enough pages left to find out what the prophecy was all about. Gah! It's sort of like when you're watching a TV show and realize it's going to be a "To Be Continued". It does, however, end with Sparky arriving on Earth as the puppy Xia at last. The series is 4 books long and this is only book one.
I found it to be a captivating and consistently funny story appropriate for children, but with subtleties that will appeal to adults who love animals.