Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Fido and Friend in Five: Michaela Muntean, Beau and Tess!

Sit! Stay! Read!
The talented Michaela
I just love books that make me smile and also bring a tear (or two or three) to my eyes, don't you? That's the way I felt when I came upon Michaela Muntean's gorgeous, wonderful, funny, and inspiring new picture book, Stay: The True Story of Ten Dogs. Of course, it was the cover that grabbed me first. You can see why. But then I read the story behind that wonderful cover and I was in love. And in case you think otherwise, no, I don't fall in love easily.

Stay is the true story of ten dogs rejected by their owners as hopeless for one reason or another, and adopted by the extraordinary Luciano Anastasini. Now Luciano is not an ordinary dog lover with an over-sized heart. No, Luciano is a renowned circus performer. He came from one of those multi-generational circus families. He had every intention of carrying on as a trapeze artist, until a fall almost took his life and ended his career. Undaunted, Luciano reinvented himself as a clown. Always a dog lover, Luciano saw hope in every single one of these "hopeless" dogs. With love and patience, he trained them to be proud, happy circus performers like himself. What an uplifting tale (ha ha) of love, acceptance, and picking yourself up when you're tossed to the ground.

Michaela has had an interesting journey herself. She has a degree in comparative literature and taught Russian literature as well. She's also worked as a magazine and book editor. She edited and wrote many of the "Sesame Street" books, and wrote over twenty-five Golden books. She's also the author of the widely acclaimed picture book, Do Not Open This Book! Stay is her first non-fiction picture book.

Let's meet Michaela Muntean and her trick-less but-loveable-nonetheless mutts, Beau and Tess!

The lovely Tess
1. How did you and your dogs find each other?  For a number of reasons, I took the death of our beloved Flynn four years ago especially hard. I've lived with dogs most of my life, but this time I actually thought maybe that's it. After nearly a year, though, my husband said he didn't think he could go on much longer without a dog bowl on the kitchen floor, and I decided he was right. We headed to a Long Island rescue center that had just taken in twenty dogs from overcrowded shelters in different parts of the country. Metal crates were stacked five-high. In the bottom crate was a three-month-old foxhound curled up on a scrap of blanket. We were told he came from Virginia. "Ah," said my husband. "A Southern gentleman. Then you shall have a southern name," and he dubbed him Beauregard, after the Civil War general. We've never had a dog who loved other dogs as much as Beau. Flynn didn't give a toss about his fellow canines. We heard about a group of volunteers who took in dogs too traumatized to be put in a shelter. They provided foster care and much-needed transition time and attention. That's how we met Tess, a nine-month-old collie mix who indeed had a rough start in life. She and Beau got along famously, are both now three years old, and come to work with me every day (to a small cottage at the back of our property, where I write). I call them my staff.

2. What makes Tess and Beau's tails wag?  A wild run on the beach, rousting up a flock of seagulls.

The handsome Beau
3. What's your all-time favorite dog story?  The Dog Who Wouldn't Be, by Farley Mowat. The image of Mutt wearing his driving goggles while spitting out cherry pits makes me laugh as much today as it did  when I read it for the first time at age ten.

4. If Beau and Tess could change just one thing about you, what would it be?  They would like my husband and I to get up at first light. Both dogs are morning enthusiasts. They wake up seemingly saying, "Hey! It's a new day, and we're still here! Together! Let's do something to celebrate!"

5. In five words, tell us what Beau and Tess mean to you:  Energy, enthusiasm, laughter, life, love.

Thank you, Michaela, Beau and Tess for taking time out from writing and seagull rousting to visit with us on Fido and Friend in Five! And special thanks to Michaela's book-loving niece who recommended A DOG'S WAY HOME to Michaela and gave it a five-star rating. 


  1. Love this. Sisterhood of the dog-lovers.

  2. Thanks Miss B.! And if you haven't read STAY, you need to. It's wonderful!

  3. Another book on my list to read! This one looks wonderful! Thanks, Bobbie! :>) Lois