I, Cosmo by Carli Sorosiak

As a child my family always had a dog. There were times when we had two dogs. To me and to my sister these dogs were much more than pets, they were friends. Friends who we always believed knew when we were sad or troubled, whom we occasionally confided in and sought refuge with when life was tricky. Carli Sorosiak clearly felt the same way and in this lovely book has recreated that special relationship between a child and their pet dog with heart, kindness and humour.

Cosmo’s family are in trouble. Mom and Dad are arguing, Emmaline is too little to understand what is happening but is worried, her brother Max is old enough to understand and is scared that his family will break up. Cosmo wants to help his best friend Max and the family he cares very much about. However, Cosmo is a Golden Retriever, thirteen years old and getting a bit creaky so what can he possibly do to help? Perhaps more than he realises because Cosmo loves, he loves “doggedly” with his whole heart, no matter what and he will do for his whole life.

From the opening lines Cosmo’s voice is a distinctive one, full of warmth and a wise understanding with occasional moments of bewilderment. The story begins at Halloween with Cosmo suffering the indignity of being dressed up as a turtle with admirable fortitude. Very quickly we start to understand how deep the understanding is between Max and Cosmo. To try and save the family and remind Max’s parents of former happier times the two enter a local dog dancing competition. They are going to dance to a song from Cosmo’s favourite film, Grease. In order to succeed Cosmo will need to battle against aged joints and aches and pains while Max must learn to overcome his shyness.

It says much for the writing that as the story progressed I felt I knew and understood Cosmo and Max and the unbreakable bond between the two of them. Cosmo is such a fabulous character. He is so full of love. At times he misbehaves but he cares, he cares very much and he makes the reader care too. There are some very funny, at times hilarious, events along the way too. Mostly involving Cosmo and food. Max has great appeal, being a thoughtful boy who is trying to do his best during a stressful time. He and Cosmo are helped in their mission by Uncle Reggie, an army dog trainer who has just returned from Afghanistan, a lovely character who I found as appealing as Cosmo.

The improvement in Max’s and Cosmo’s dancing skills runs alongside the rapid disintegration of Mom and Dad’s marriage and viewing all this through Cosmo’s eyes enables children to witness Max’s unhappiness at a safe distance. Throughout the whole book there are moments when we realise that everyone has to deal with fears in life, sometimes nameless ones, and that it is possible to face up to and overcome these.

Carli Sorosiak writes about a difficult subject with an understanding of the needs of her young readers and I, Cosmo demonstrates how families are able to adapt successfully to changing and difficult circumstances. A book full of warmth and humour. I adored Cosmo and I loved his story. By the end I was desperate for a Cosmo of my own and think other readers will feel the same way.

I, Cosmo was published on 1st August and is available to purchase at all good bookshops or online The appealing cover illustration is by Ben Mantle. Thank you very much to Nosy Crow publishers for providing my free review copy.

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