Book Jacket

 

rank 1151
word count 30286
date submitted 25.09.2009
date updated 06.06.2010
genres: Fiction, Young Adult
classification: universal
incomplete

If Only I Could Talk - a Canine Adventure

Tony Lewis

Trapped in the house fire, Nelson is dying. If only he could open the door ...

 

Nelson whimpers his final goodbye to Rascal, his canine soulmate, their paws almost touching through the heavy glass that separates them. Succumbing to the smoke, his life drifts slowly before him ...

Nelson was born deep in the French Alps, where his only worries were how snow could be both soft and hard and why it made the house sink. And whose turn it was to fetch the baguettes from the boulangerie. So how ever did he find himself lost and lonely in an unforgiving England?

His wanderings eventually lead him to David and his son Timothy, a young boy with autism. Life is once again full of joy, especially when Nelson becomes a mascot for an animal charity, drinks his first real ‘cuppa’ and sings along to ‘Jerusalem’ with a group of Edith Piaf clones.

Until now, caught in the fire, Nelson’s luck has surely deserted him. But he can’t die yet!
And with Rascal there to help, Nelson has no choice but to survive.

 
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tags

animals, autism, biography, canine, dog, dogs, family, france, french, friendship, funny, humour, loss, pet, pets, pup, puppies, puppy

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123 comments

 

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M. A. McRae. wrote 1468 days ago

There are a lot of reviews that rave 'I love this,' 'This is a bestseller" 'This is brilliant.' Often they're made only in the hope of a return backing. I don't do those sort of reviews. What I will do is say that I've read all 12 chapters that you have here, and I've cried and laughed and smiled over it. And I wouldn't worry about what sort of an audience you are writing for, - children or YA or what. I am in my 50s, and loved every word. Marj.

Cas P wrote 1664 days ago

Hi Tony.

Well what dog lover could resist this? You tell Nelson's story with an integrity that does full justice to a much loved animal's fighting spirit and joy for life. No over-sentimentalism, no anthropomorphism - above what's necessary to convey Nelson's thoughts - just plenty of love, sensitivity and creativeness.
A superb story, very well written.
Deservedly shelved.
Cas.
KING'S ENVOY

Barry Wenlock wrote 1550 days ago

I have to be honest. I haven't read a dog book, since I was a child when I read Jack London's classic work. From now on. I shall refer to your book as 'White Fang 2!! Excellent work! BACKED! Barry

Susan Bennett wrote 1472 days ago

How wonderfully different. A sure fire hit when it hits the shelves.

Amylovesbooks wrote 1460 days ago

This is a really sweet book, with great writing and several valuable messages for us to take away. Timothy is clearly helped by Ombre/Ozzy, and the manifestations of autism you've written are realistic and believable (Tim turning Ombre's ears inside out often, and taking what is said very literally, are two examples). I'm not sure I'm the target audience for this book (but I think it's a book most anyone would enjoy), however, I love animals, and believe they are wise creatures. Backing this one, for sure.

Good luck with it.
Amy
Love Match

Jinianne wrote 932 days ago

Very well written and covers so many dog emotions. You gave the dogs personalities (they all have them, of course) and drew me right into the story. It is fitting for people of all ages. Nice!

Meowmeow1 wrote 934 days ago

Wow, very nice! I love it, I've only read two chapters but it's amazing. It truly deserves to be shelved. :)

Stark Silvercoin wrote 1174 days ago

Surprisingly, I’ve read a lot of books lately that feature intelligent animals. I just finished one on here with a funny evil cat as the main character. But If Only I Could Talk - a Canine Adventure has something different than all of them: a deep emotional connection displayed through the animal in question. Author Tony Lewis knows his animals and the relationship between them and humans. The autism angle is a new one for me, but it seems to be well-handled here and realistic, perfectly integrated into the story. I can see this book gaining a wide audience among a lot of different people from young adults to dog lovers to people affected by autism in their family to people who just enjoy good fiction. Very few books move me to almost cry. Even if at times I felt like the author was playing to a formula designed to elicit that response, I couldn’t avoid the trap. Well done.

John Breeden II
Old Number Seven

Wilma1 wrote 1202 days ago

I'm sure this book was higher before. I love this story he awful fire and the tragic Rascal breathing his last breath or was it? The faith betwen the two annimals and Rascalls recovey is amasing but Timothy's story is even better. A loevly story to touch anyones heart.

Sue
knowing Liam Riley
Ps I wish I had shelf space but hope you will be happy with my comments and Stars

Ceeds wrote 1238 days ago

Sorry I had to take this off my bookshelf today but I'm going to read some more, keep you on my WL and give you six stars! best regards, Ceeds

PAULUS THE WOOD GNOME wrote 1246 days ago

interesting and enjoyable even for one that has little time for reading. Good luck

Ceeds wrote 1246 days ago

I was crying even reading your pitch! I think I can only read this one chpt at a time in case I dessicate! I love Nelson! I haven't got room on my shelf for another day or so, but I will pop it on my WL and up onto the shelf as soon as I can. As you might be able to tell: I am a dog owner! Best of Luck. Ceeds
'JOE'S NAN'

CarolinaAl wrote 1329 days ago

A touching, gripping journey filled with surprises. Well crafted characters with real emotions. Excellent dialogue and narrative. Intriguing storyline. Lucid writing. Backed.

Owen Quinn wrote 1339 days ago

Very original and a pitch that grabs immediately, reading some of what Timothy does to the dog is exactly what my little one does on his and having autism in my family, you handled it respectfully but pull no punches, the more people understand this condition the better and given my dog nearly died a few weeks ago, I was welling up in parts, This is up there with Marley and Me, emotionally powerful in the most surprising way.

alison woodward wrote 1342 days ago

I enjoyed this a lot, the begining of the first chapter was so sad then happiness at the end of it, its a great story.
have only read the first chapter for now, backed

alison

Wilma1 wrote 1361 days ago

If only I could talk
I am not particularly an animal lover but this book tore at the heartstrings. I had a lump in my throat and found the whole thing such a moving and emotional read. You write extremely well. The pace you keep is not too fast, not too slow. We don’t rush through and we don’t drag along at a depressive lengthy pace. You have the ability to write drama, hope, love and humour and If I had a hat I’d take it off to you.
Wilma1
Knowing Liam Riley

David Holt wrote 1367 days ago

I enjoyed the idea of this story - I like it when writers try to view the world through the eyes of different animals, such as James Herbert's Fluke - and for the most part I enjoyed the writing but I think it needs a little work. Here are my suggestions (Remember this is only my opinion).

The writing at times feels a little listy, and there is too much telling and not enough showing.

"The house is ablaze. Inside an eight year-old Labrador-whippet cross is trapped. Outside, Rascal, a small terrier, can do nothing to help his best friend." This is just a dry statement of the facts. Delete this paragraph and integrate these details into the prologue.

"The house is ablaze." Describe this from the dogs point of view. Dogs have an amazing sense of smell and hearing include these senses. What can he taste in the air?

You can include the age of the dog at the point when you say that he does not want to die. He does not want to die, he's still too young, he's only eight.

By describing what the smoke and heat are doing to him you can tell the reader what kind of dog he is. The soot had blacked his fur (Is it long or short), the heat has burned his coat. He has to lie on the floor because he's too tall to stand as the smoke descends etc.

And the statement about Rascal is also redundant because you go on to describe this better later in the chapter.

Also watch out for small details. Nelson collapses against the window. This means he is lying with his body touching the glass but from this position he raises a paw and touches the glass (This action would suggest that he is a little bit away from the window). then he lies down with his head between his paws (But he was already lying down from when he collapsed).

Hope you can make some sense of my ramblings, and that they are of some help.

Dave

odeb wrote 1370 days ago

Oh, no don't name him... too late Mister Dog/Ozzy/Oswald... has a home. And how could a dog named Rascal be anything but a hero. Since my own Rascal is buried in my backyard, I have no idea if your a good writer or not.. Too many tears. Guess, you must have done good because if you didn't I wouldn't have those tears now would I.
BACKED.

odeb- GHOSTWOMAN

mvw888 wrote 1372 days ago

This begins right in the thick of things, which I sometimes like. Here, I felt a bit disoriented at the beginning. Although you have briefly set the story with "Three and a half years ago, rural England, etc," I think I would have liked a bit of description of where we were, the house, the relationship of the dogs, something...before we get into this tragic situation. Just a bit, not a full chapter or anything. Once the scene gets going, it's certainly fast-paced and high on drama. Good use of dialogue, a good story, and I would definitely lean towards this being marketed to children. It does matter that you figure out your market.

---Mary
The Qualities of Wood

GK Stritch wrote 1373 days ago

Dear Tony Lewis,

Dog people are devout, so it seems you have something entirely marketable with If Only I Could Talk. (An erudite and brilliant friend suggested that to get published I write about dogs. He said people like reading about dogs and Abraham Lincoln, so why not write about Abe Lincoln’s dog?)

Nelson the Lab-Whippet and Rascal the terrier are hard to resist, but having the two dogs stare at each other through the glass while the house burns is heart wrenching. For a novice writer, you certainly know how to keep those pages turning. This line, “Nelson doesn’t want to die a pathetic death…” aims for the weeping coeur, ah, the quiet dignity of dogs.

Beautiful cover and title and fine storytelling.

Backed and best wishes.

GK Stritch
CBGB Was My High School

missyfleming_22 wrote 1374 days ago

I can see this has been on here a while and I have no clue how I missed it before now!! I loved this and I think any person who loves a dog will too. It reminded me of that one book, The Art of Racing in the Rain. This is something that if I read it til the end I'd be bawling. You're a wonderful writer and have written a poignant tribute to our canine companion. My dog is my child and I love him that fiercely. Great book and a true hidden gem of this insane site!

Missy

michaelgd wrote 1374 days ago

Good narrative, descriptive and alive. Realistic dialogue...love the POV of the dog.

One thing: You may want to open the prologue with a specific date. You tell us its three years ago but we have no timeframe to go by. I didn't see any other mention of time in the first chapter, so I am assuming somewhere down the line you do change the time. Perhaps starting off the prologue with a date, say, April 2005, and then later on saying three years later, or something like that. Otherwise I am lost from the opening scene.

Clean writing, though. Imaginative, I would like to see what HC thinks about it.

Backed.
Mike

lynn clayton wrote 1374 days ago

Tony, have read only the first chapter but you don't need me to tell you how wonderful it is - not only the plot and the two dogs , but your writing, conveying all the urgency and panic and sadness of the event.
but Nelson doesn't die! Bravo and backed. Lynn

Ann Mynard wrote 1375 days ago

As one dog lover to another (I have an adored labrador) I will say, if you'd let Nelson die, I wouldn't have bothered to read your book further. As it is, I've found it to be well-written (can't find anything to worry about) and it caught me up in the story. I think animal tales are becoming very popular, now, so I wish you all the luck with it - oh, and backed, of course.
Backed,
Ann Mynard (Windshadow)

Ann Mynard wrote 1375 days ago

As one dog lover to another (I have an adored labrador) I will say, if you'd let Nelson die, I wouldn't have bothered to read your book further. As it is, I've found it to be well-written (can't find anything to worry about) and it caught me up in the story. I think animal tales are becoming very popular, now, so I wish you all the luck with it - oh, and backed, of course.
Backed,
Ann Mynard (Windshadow)

Thetinman wrote 1375 days ago

Tony,
I read this with the eyes of an 8-16 year old and feel that this is the beginning of a powerful story, albeit with some work still to do. I liked chapter one much, much better than the pro.
Before I mention some examples, keep in mind that I am not a writer, I’m an amateur. I don’t read children’s fiction except for my favourite childhood book, the Wind in the Willows. Because of this, my only comparison can be towards that.
I was at odds with your prologue short sentences. In many cases they helped speed up the action for our ADD generation. In some cases they were too short – as in cut off, needing a comma where there was a period. It may be your writing style for the dog’s POV in this action sequence, but it didn’t work for me. For example, halfway down your chapter 1 in the par “Nelson can hear...”
He tries to open his eyes to find him. Sees him through the smoke and glass. He’s in the garden. Frantically spinning...
Choppy and somewhat grating.
Your chapter one is very good, so I’m guessing you know what I’m talking about here. Although I have seen this here on authonomy, I was never a big fan of a change of the all important voice, which is what happens from pro to chapter one. I can only compare it to a movie, which has choppy action camera work for the first half, but seamless for the second.
Chapter one is believable and very well written, as good as the best stuff here. Even when you changed POV back to Rascal, it was far more natural though there were still some odd sentences. Later with Ombré’s POV,(chapter 5) it was a natural, as if you yourself became comfortable, and it blended seamlessly into your story.
This is my only nit, even after checking a few chapters. I bring it up because I think of the quality writing that I read in TWITW, a book I still enjoy reading even at 46, though I’ve read Homer, Shakespeare, and a few thousand other books.
By the way, the all important cover - yours is a winner.

Hope this helps, and if it doesn’t, I understand.
Backed.

Paul

www.pauldaytonscifi.com

Eye of the Idol

jumes wrote 1375 days ago

Well...I do love this book ...and I think it could be a bestseller and I say this with no hope of a return backing ..or a swap ..(.I don't have a book on this site )..., I am here purely as a reader.I'm backing this book because i love the story ( so far ...chapt 5) and I just know that i will have to read to the end ...I love Nelson ! When I first read your pitch I was reminded of another 'dog story ' called The Art of Racing in the Rain......a book I once read and found very moving .....Good Luck with your book , I feel sure it will do well
regards
Julie
Just like you , my Dad put his book on this site (with no expectations)...and even though it never got to the editors desk ,Harper Collins recently chose it (from this site) and published it. The book (Someone to Love Us) went on sale in March of this year and is doing really well ....good luck

zan wrote 1410 days ago

If Only I Could Talk - a Canine Adventure

Tony Lewis

Backed a few days ago Tony based on your moving pitches and only had time to read some more today. Dog lovers will love this - and beyond that as well since this is very well written. Your personification of Nelson and Rascal is so well done. The fire scenario is brilliant. Great plot really with adorable characters (!) and glad to have given it a spin on my shelf.

KW wrote 1415 days ago

Hell, the dog on the cover was enough for me to back this. Rascal's there to help. Never forget to turn of the cooker. That's a very important lesson. Of course, a heartful story about dying dog is another great lesson as well. I'll be back to read more when I can. Nelson will get better, "he will be back out into the fields with Rascal before you know it." Backed for now.

Andrew Burans wrote 1416 days ago

Your prologue was very moving and I liked your clever use of foreshadowing and Nelson's inner angst about not telling Rascal everything. This is a very unique premise for a book and is well written. Your use of imagery is excellent and your descriptive writing style will appeal to the YA audience. Backed.

Andrew Burans:
The Reluctant Warrior: The Beginning

JD Revene wrote 1417 days ago

Tony,

This was recommended to me on the forum when I asked for suggestions of good reads. Great pitch draws me in.

So, straight to the work proper. And you open with a powerful scene, described in simple language that will work well for a young audience (I'm thinking the lower end of YA).

It does strike me that some modifiers--anymore, now, again--are overused and could generaly be omitted. But there's a nice rythmn and removing words might affect that.

The whole first chapter though is gripping--especially the interactions of Nelson and Rascal. And the end is dramatic.

If I have qualms, it would be that some of the dialogue between the couple seems a little artificial--and to be honest I want them to get off stage and give the dogs more time in the spotlight.

The second chapter starts a little slowly, I think, but then the pathos slowly builds.

The highlight of chapter three is Nelson sitting up--and it brings a prickling to the eyes.

And, I guess that's what writing's all about: you've sucked me and I love it.

Backed.

S Richard Betterton wrote 1441 days ago

What a first chapter! I spent the whole time desperately thinking 'please don't die Nelson!' Honestly, that was truly emotional! You've hooked me. Brilliant. Both Rascal and Nelson are portrayed so much better than the majority of human characters in books on here, and the tension was almost too much. Thoroughly deserving of a shelf.

Bocri wrote 1441 days ago

12 May 2010
08:51
The first chapter of if Only I could Talk is skilfully crafted and could quite feasibly be a stand alone short story.
The prose is concise, succinct and uncluttered but infallibly stirs the emotions. The two canines make a credible transition into believable characters with whom the reader can empathise. The plight of Nelson and his suffering together with Rascal's reactions to his friend's predicament provide the tension. Based on this blue riband segment BACKED. Robert Davidson. The Tuzla Run.

hot lips wrote 1441 days ago

During and just after the fire, this is so tense and describes so vividly such a desperate situation it is almost impossible to read. Backed with pleasure.
BADD

Ransom Heart wrote 1442 days ago

Hi,
Backed yesterday. Clear, clean writing, effective depiction of dog's struggle to breath, survive, and rejuvenate. Excellent description of owners' grief, brings tears and longing for one's own pet. A good universal story.
Well done. Marianne (Saint Paddy and the Sundial)

Jim Darcy wrote 1442 days ago

If I read this to the kids or grandkids they'd be in flood of tears before I got to the end of the paragraph! Very cleverly done. Got to go now and buy another box of tissues!
Jim Darcy
The Firelord's Crown

ps only thing I would say is to just watch how many exclamation marks you use.
Cheers

Hypo99 wrote 1442 days ago

What a great peice of work. I will be reading more, and then, more again. It made me smile indeed.

Congratulations on this.

Backed indeed.

Brendan Doherty
The Russian Hat

Raymond Nickford wrote 1443 days ago

Though we may think of 'humanised', and sensitive pigs in Orwell's Animal Farm - your exploration of the feelings and POV's of Nelson and Rascal is both original and delightful - though traumatic in the fire.
Having been caught in the thick and acrid smoke of a fire many years ago, choked and wretched and nearly collapsed, I can tell that you have tried - and succeeded - to recreate the nightmare, albeit for the canines.
Rascal's 'frantic scratching with his paws against the glass' is just one of many very well placed descriptions which evoke the trauma.
Your descriptive detail throughout the first Chapter created for me a real sense of place and of participation and when you conclude with the fireman tryng to offer his sympathy for the loss of the dog, it is moving to see how many of us can share the affinity with the trusting creatures who have their own world of which they could tell us so much that we cannot know, had they been able to talk.

Shelved.
Ray
(A Child from the Wishing Well)

RedNikki wrote 1445 days ago

As a die hard animal lover this is exactly my kind of read, ive really enjoyed what ive read and think it deserves to go far, you write with such passion it really shows in the lines. All the best.

Famlavan wrote 1445 days ago

I’m a bit of a loss of what to say about this (unusual for me).
I think this is brilliant, so well told – I’m going to go and give the dog a hug – I’ve still got a lump in my throat!

Christa Wojo wrote 1459 days ago

Crying already.

Backed with tears,
Christa

Strauss wrote 1459 days ago

This made me well up just by reading the pitch. Backed! Straussy

Amylovesbooks wrote 1460 days ago

This is a really sweet book, with great writing and several valuable messages for us to take away. Timothy is clearly helped by Ombre/Ozzy, and the manifestations of autism you've written are realistic and believable (Tim turning Ombre's ears inside out often, and taking what is said very literally, are two examples). I'm not sure I'm the target audience for this book (but I think it's a book most anyone would enjoy), however, I love animals, and believe they are wise creatures. Backing this one, for sure.

Good luck with it.
Amy
Love Match

RobRow wrote 1464 days ago

This is a wonderful book, and I sincerely hope you find a market for it. I am a dog lover, but I'm certain this book will appeal to everyone. The story is sweet and sincere, and the writing is excellent. All the best of luck with it.

Rob

Mot The Hoople wrote 1467 days ago

Despite not falling within your target market with If Only I Could Talk, I was drawn into the tale and enjoyed what I've read so far. Backed with pleasure.

M. A. McRae. wrote 1468 days ago

There are a lot of reviews that rave 'I love this,' 'This is a bestseller" 'This is brilliant.' Often they're made only in the hope of a return backing. I don't do those sort of reviews. What I will do is say that I've read all 12 chapters that you have here, and I've cried and laughed and smiled over it. And I wouldn't worry about what sort of an audience you are writing for, - children or YA or what. I am in my 50s, and loved every word. Marj.

Beval wrote 1471 days ago

I'm not a dog person, that is to say I don't care for dogs as a whole, but I have known some indiviual ones that I have respected and a few that I have loved. Its that love you have portrayed here so well.
Not only the owners love for Nelson, but his pack mate's affection as well. You don't get that with cats, they rarely like each other.
My sister would have adored this as a teenagers, still would, she's passionate about her dogs. She would understand this couple completely. I suspect it would have had to be rationed when she was a kid, she would have wept buckets over it.
There maybe some nits, but if I'm honest i was to busy reading to make sure nelson was okay to notice.
Good story.

Susan Bennett wrote 1472 days ago

How wonderfully different. A sure fire hit when it hits the shelves.

lisawb wrote 1472 days ago

A must for any animal lover. The cover is brilliant and the contents do not let the cover down. Nelson is an adorable character and this book will be well worthy of a place on any shelf. I am glad that it will be available soon in the shops, and I will one of many to order a signed copy ;o)

Backed with pleasure,

Lisa

carlashmore wrote 1473 days ago

What an interesting and undeniable powerful story. If i have a query, it is about the target market. In many ways this feels like it should be a children's story (9 - 12) yet you list it as YA and certainly write with the complexity of a YA writer. It is a thin line to pitch this story to the right target audience. I mean, I love the story and your prose is terrific, I just hope that it hits the right chord with your TA. In terms of nit picks, well I found very few. Tgere should be a comma after house in teh first line of chapter 1, but that was about it. Great story. Backed.
Carl
The time Hunters

lizjrnm wrote 1483 days ago

I love this story - eventhe pitch made me tear up! I am a real sucker for dogs and Nelson's narration is so perfect! Just a wonderful story so far! BACKED with pleasure!

Liz
The Cheech Room

Burgio wrote 1485 days ago

Don't think I've ever read a book narrated by a dog before. He's a very likable character. I can see children reading this over as a favorite. Burgio (Grain of Salt).

WendyB wrote 1491 days ago

Thank you for saving Nelson.
I have dogs.

The first chapters were very moving. What a compelling way to invest us in this wonderful dog's life.

Wendy Bertsch
(Once More...From The Beginning)

Skip Mahaffey wrote 1500 days ago

Wow!
I couldn't stop reading this!
Congratulations!
Backed!
Skip-

Skip Mahaffey wrote 1503 days ago

Tony!
Great job.
Ready to back this and I just put it on my WL. Why?
Great cover. Dogs win everytime. This one in particular seems to WANT to talk (seriously, I love it)
Then there's the pitch.
You've told just enough of the story to make someone put down whatever they were holding and say "I must read this"
Cant wait to tear into this one.
Guaranteed a backing on this
Brilliant!
Skip- Adventures With My Father

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