Title: The Adventures of Onyx and The Guardians of the Straits
Author and Illustrator: Tyler Benson
Year published: 2012
Publisher: Independent – Ensign Benson Books, LLC
Number of pages: 30
Recommended age: 3+
Reviewed by: Renee and Dominic (Mother and Son)
Purchase: Amazon (US)
1. What is the story about? This story is about people who work for the U.S. Coast Guard and a dog named Onyx. The people are on a boat and they have to save people who are sick on another boat. It’s really stormy outside and when they rescue the second man, he falls into the water. The dog saves him.
2. What do you think of the cover and/or the pictures in the book? I like every single picture and the cover. The dog is cute.
3. What is your favorite part of the story? My favorite part of the story is when the dog rescues the man because it was nice.
4. What is your least favorite part of the story? My least favorite part of the story is when the man fell into the water. That was scary.
5. Overall, what did you think about this book? I thought this book was great because it had a dog, and adventure, and a good story.
6. Who do you think would like this book? I think every kid and their parents would like this book.
Son Rating: ★★★★☆
What it’s About: The Guardians of the Straits tells the story of a homeless dog who inadvertently ends up on a Coast Guard ship on a dark and stormy night, when the “Coasties” get a call to rescue two men on a freighter passing through the straights of Mackinac. The evacuation of the two men goes awry when the second man plunges into the icy waters of the river strapped to a stretcher. As the Coasties get set to begin the rescue operation, the brave dog finds her true calling and plunges into the water to save the man. The Coasties, impressed with the dog’s valor, decide to make her their station’s Coast Guard Morale Dog and give her the name Onyx.
My Thoughts: The Adventures of Onyx and The Guardians of the Straits is based on the true life experiences of the author, Tyler Benson, who has been with the United States Coast Guard for over 10 years. Onyx, the dog in the book, is based on the real life morale dog, Onyx, who is stationed in St. Ignace Michigan. The Guardians of the Straits is an adventure-filled, heart-warming tale featuring the title main character and the brave men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard. This moving story gives readers insight into some of the work typically undertaken by the Coast Guard.
The book begins with the introduction of a homeless dog with no purpose. We see the transformation of a lonely, despondent dog into a dog that is truly man’s best friend. At the end of the book, the crew has adopted the dog, given her the name Onyx, and have given her a home and a sense of purpose. All dog lovers will love this tale of acceptance, courage, and finding a place to call home.
I loved how the author dove into a very dramatic rescue as a demonstration of how the Coast Guard operates. The brave men and women of the Coast Guard (aka, “Coasties”) often place their own lives on the line to save and help others. That is real. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the Coast Guard (both in the U.S. and Canada). I must admit that as I was reading the book out loud to my children, I began to get choked up and had to stop a moment to prevent my voice from cracking. The author does a great job of making the reader feel as if they are present, witnessing the rescue. I was THAT moved by the story.
The illustrations are done in watercolour by Parnell Davies and are absolutely stunning. They are very life-like and really help to engage the reader in the story. I felt that the pictures went hand-in-hand with the story and really captured the desperation of the situation when the rescue mission went south. Very well done!
My Bottom Line: The Adventures of Onyx and the Guardians of the Straits is a moving tribute to the men and women who serve in the Coast Guard. The story, centred around a beautiful and courageous dog, is based on a real, action-packed Coast Guard rescue mission taking the reader on a roller coaster ride through stormy seas and unforeseen circumstances. I was very moved by this well-written, beautifully-illustrated story giving us a glimpse into the lives of some Coasties.
Who Would Like This Book? I think children who are interested in learning more about what the Coast Guard does, or children who love stories centred around the heroics of canines will love this book. Ages 3+.
Mom Rating: ★★★★★
* This book was provided to us by the author free-of-charge in exchange for our honest review.*
About the Author
Great Lakes author Tyler Benson is from St. Louis, Michigan. He has served in the United States Coast Guard for more than a decade in St. Ignace, Michigan. He began writing short stories about his search and rescue adventures in the Coast Guard to educate his three young daughters about what Daddy does when he goes on duty for 48 hours at a time. He wanted his daughters to learn the importance of service to their country and helping those in need. To help his daughters better understand his job, Tyler wrote the stories featuring his real station’s morale dog, Onyx. These stories soon evolved into a dream. This dream would be a tribute and a way to bring recognition to all who serve or have served in the United States Coast Guard. Tyler welcomes all to join his family, friends, station, shipmates, and Onyx as they get underway. A storm is on the horizon, a hero will rise – let the adventures begin!
For more on author and “Coastie” Tyler Benson and The Adventures of Onyx, please visit http://www.adventuresofonyx.com/.
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