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Stargazing Dog Paperback – November 1, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Reading this graphic novel is the emotional equivalent to listening to NPR’s StoryCorps—moving, beautiful, and ultimately heart-wrenching. Murakami’s lovingly drawn, award-winning manga tells the story of a simple man’s life from the point of view of his devoted dog, Happie. Due to a combination of factors, circumstances change quickly for Happie’s nameless owner, “Daddy,” who was once a regular Joe with an office job and a family. Happie sticks by him through thick and thin, and, true to his name, Happie remains blissfully unaware of Daddy’s increasingly desperate living situation. As Daddy’s luck and health continue to fail, Happie becomes Daddy’s only friend and final joy. This touching story shows the cruelty of a modern society that allows those down on their luck to fall through the cracks. --Candice Mack

Review

"Murakami knows he has a powerful central image in this happy, ignorant mutt and the desperate man who loves him, and so he stands back from it just enough to let it work on the reader, never pushing the story too far to the maudlin." —www.AVClub.com (November 2011)

"Reading this graphic novel is the emotional equivalent to listening to NPR's StoryCorps—moving, beautiful, and ultimately heart-wrenching." —Booklist (December 15, 2011)


"Anyone who's ever loved a pet will be moved to tears by the tale of human misfortune and the unwavering dedication of dogs that unfolds in Murakami's graphic novel." —Modern Dog (March 2012)


"Charming and universally appealing." —New City (February 2012) 


"Did I mention the book will break your heart, yet? So it's really up to you if you want to spend a half hour of your life reading a book like that. I'm glad I did, because it's a memorable book that doesn't harp on politics or society as a whole. I'm a softie for this book, completely." —www.ComicBookResources.com


"Here are some cool reads featuring awesome canines that will help take your mind off the sweltering temperatures." —www.yalsa.ala.org
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: NBM Publishing (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1561636126
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561636129
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #555,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Billy Kumo on December 31, 2011
Format: Paperback
Since the Dawn of Time Men were only allowed to cry at the end Old Yeller, Brian's Song, & the "Jurassic Bark" episode of Futurama. UNTIL NOW.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Frederic on November 30, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Originally published in Japan in 2008, Murakami notes that this is his first story. I won't rehash the story as that's already covered in the other review, but will likewise note that it's sad. Really sad. But also beautifully sad.

Fans of Takashi Murakami's art should be aware that this is from a different person with the same name. I didn't know that when I bought the book, but I'm really pleased to have found this little book. Even if it is sad.

Manga fans will note that this English translation has been reversed to read from left to right, front to back. There are helpful marginal translations of the various sounds and interjections left in the original Japanese in the artwork.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By sonicbooming on October 14, 2011
Format: Paperback
Make sure you have a box of kleenex or are alone for this read. You will have something in your eye by the end of the story. I'm not going to spoiler anything so let's get it out of the way, the story begins with a rather grim scene. A squad of police officers encounter an abandoned car in a field of sunflowers with two corpses: an old man who has been dead for more than a year and a dog who has only recently died sometime within the past three months.

The story is told from the POV of a young puppy/dog named Happaei. This is all you really need to know, the life of a dog as he is adopted by a family and the patriarch of a family who endures some breathtaking struggles and adversities that life seems to consistently throw at him. "Daddy" didn't choose to bring this dog into his family, yet he is the one that ultimately connects the most with Happaei. A strong familial bond is formed, one that will leave you in tears. Don't worry it's the heartwarming take your breath away kind. It is one of the most beautiful and tragic graphic novels I've ever read since Maus.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Xandar on January 7, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's great to write a review after several others have already explained the plot, now I don't have to ;) So far a agree with the other reviews. I just wanted to give this book the high rating it deserves and say a few things that may intice some people to give it a shot. The book is sad but not to the point of inducing tears (at least not for me). Instead, this book elegantly illustrates the unconditional love and loyalty we get from animals and how we often take it for granted. And it does this without being melodramatic or sappy. I really like how it transitions from the dog's perspective to that of the social worker. This contrasts the two views of the human-canine relationship. This is easily one of the best graphic novels I have ever read. If you are on the fence, please give it a chance!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By husky snooks on May 7, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a beautiful story I really loved reading it. However, I would not recommend it for people who are quite sensitive to any animals death. If you have seen the films "Hachi" or "Marley and me" or "Turner and Hooch" you will know what I mean. That aside, I find myself quite sensitive to this topic as I have had 2 dogs of my own pass away, one not too long ago and I still loved this story. It is short, the art work is gorgeous and the characters are cute and sweet. I read it in about an hour or so and had a few tears in my eyes by the end but it is definitely worth reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By nicole chauvet on April 3, 2012
Format: Paperback
Unbelievable...truly amazing. It hurt sooooo good, I had to read it again. And yep, cried yet again. The artwork is sparse and just perfect. Remarkable how many expressions he can get out of a dog's face. I would say that I did notice the sound effects in the wrong place but kind of over looked it for just the beauty of the panel. I will say I will never understand why US publishers feel the need to switch the panels at all. Back to front, front to back, this is a little masterpiece!
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Format: Paperback
Stargazing Dog came up as a read for a book club I'm in and given I'd heard good buzz and it was a single volume story I gave it a try knowing nothing about it, not even reading the book description. On one hand I'm glad I did - the description gives away a little too much in my opinion and it was nice to experience the story unfolding on its own. On the other hand I didn't know what to expect in tone, and it's not the easy going, light story the smiling dog in a field of sunflowers cover might indicate.

The above opening quote and early pages set the scene and atmosphere quickly though. This story features all the emotions of life, from the content happiness on the face of the smiling dog to experiences more melancholy to the consequences and benefits of duty and loyalty. There's a lot to think about packed into Murakami's tale of a dog and his owners, all seamlessly woven into an account of the daily events of their lives.

Stargazing Dog is actually a collection of the titular story and its sequel, "Sunflowers." The first story runs about 80 pages and is told from the point of view of a dog named Happie. The narrative technique is very well used as the reader gains insight via the difference in Happie's limited understanding of events and seeing the events themselves. Like the realities of life being depicted Happie's story is both heartwarming and heartbreaking, and progresses in a deliberate way that resonates strongly with the reader.

The sequel is roughly the last third of the book (45 pages) and features an unrelated man that finds a connection to Happie's story. While I won't share further details to avoid spoilers, Sunflowers presents the perspective of another character that shares the wistfulness of the stargazing dogs and is a fitting follow up.
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