About the Book:
Author: McCall Hoyle
Pub. Date: March 2, 2021
Beagles and Books is excited to share a review and giveaway for the middle grade novel, Stella. Special thanks to author McCall Hoyle for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
“My name is Stella. I’m a beagle, and I was born to sniff.”
While all beagles have a keen nose, Stella has been trained to sniff out explosives. But after a mission went terribly wrong resulting in the death of Connie, her handler, Stella is haunted by the memories of that tragic day. Retired of her duties, Stella now suffers from PSTD which is making it difficult for her to find a permanent home.
Fortunately, Esperanza, a friend of Connie’s and world-renowned dog trainer offers to rehabilitate Stella to help her find a forever home. When Stella arrives at Esperanza’s farm, she is warmly greeted by her daughter Cloe. Picking up scents of cookies, grass, and books, Stella is reminded of Connie who read aloud to her and recalled these words-“you must be the thing you cannot do.” But Stella also smells a sour or metallic scent unsure what it means.
From that very first day, Stella notices that Cloe gets her better than any other human since Connie. While Stella is not happy to be sleeping in the barn, she does have the company of brave border collie Nando who moves closer to her crate when she is anxious. Since it is sheep shearing season, Cloe successfully convinces her reluctant mom to let her work with Stella. Cloe still has the strange smell that Stella can’t figure out, but it’s not strong every day. On a trip running errands, the scent intensifies. Stella tries to alert Esperanza as she witnesses Cloe having an epileptic seizure. After seeing Cloe in distress, Stella is determined to not only be a good dog, but also brave like she was with Connie. Can Stella persuade Esperanza that she is meant to be Cloe’s dog?
It is no secret I love reading dog books, but when I heard about Stella, I was even more eager to read since the novel featured a beagle. As I read the first page, I was excited to discover that the story is written from Stella’s point of view. Having Stella tell the story allows readers to learn that she is indeed a great dog, but she is deeply traumatized by the loss of Connie and blames herself. My heart hurt for Stella and as I read, I found herself hugging my own beagle, Bella, as a way to comfort Stella.
When Stella meets Cloe, she has an immediate connection with her. Realizing the power of her nose, Stella knows she can signal Cloe before a seizure occurs. Stella’s overwhelming need to help Cloe aids her in her rehabilitation, for Stella learns that she is not defined by what happened in the past and can be the thing you cannot do just like Connie said. What charged Stella’s determination was Chloe because on their first walk together, Stella knew she could trust her. Cloe also believed that Stella could do great things frequently telling her mother how smart Stella is. Trust and belief gradually turn into love which makes Stella and Cloe’s relationship so heartwarming.
What I also love about Stella is its length. Long novels can be intimidating to some middle grade readers so I appreciate that Stella is under 200 pages with well developed characters that you will root for, and an intriguing plot that makes the novel very difficult to put down. Stella will make all readers fall in love with dogs especially super sniffer beagles!
Listen to a video message from the author, McCall Hoyle!
Check out the Reader’s Guide to Stella!
Beagles & Books is excited to give away an ARC of Stella courtesy of author McCall Hoyle. You can enter by retweeting my Twitter post or leaving a comment below. Giveaway ends at 10 pm on Friday, 2/26/21.