Carlie Sorosiak is the author of two young adult novels, and I, Cosmo is her debut middle grade children’s book. She is an American author from North Carolina and the book has a real American flavour to it. Sorsiak has always had dogs in her life or perhaps it should be they have had her in their lives. Either way, her love of all things canine shines through in this charming read.
Cosmo has seen a lot in his lifetime. After all, he is the oldest member of his family (well at least in dog years anyway). Ever since the day Max was born, twelve years ago, Cosmo has vowed to protect him - and his family - doggedly.
When Max begins to notice that his mum and dad are arguing more and more he begins to fear the worst. Cosmo can see Max’s world crumbling apart around him and sense’s his anxiety, he knows now more than ever that Max needs him. Despite his years, his failing joints and the threat of the neighbour’s sheepdog always looming large, Cosmo’s mind is still sharp and he might just be able to hold the family together. He just needs to channel his love for the movie Grease and a dream of dancing into a choreographed dance routine. With the help of Uncle Reggie, Cosmo might just dance to victory and prove to Max’s parents that he and Max can not be separated.
I, Cosmo is a heart-warming tale about a loveable dog and his valiant efforts to save his family, avoid his arch-enemy - who comes in the form of a sheepdog - and hopefully win a dance contest. It is packed full of moving moments, plenty of warmth and bags of humour.
In the book, Sorosiak deals with the sensitive subject of divorce and she has done a brilliant job. She handles the subject delicately and with a lightness of touch. Through the character of Max the reader experiences how divorce can affect a child and how it can bring about feelings of anxiety, worry and anger. Sorosiak assures the reader that it is normal to feel this way and it is OK to feel this way. Through Max the reader sees how hard it is to talk about parents separating and his belief that if he doesn’t talk about it then it will not happen. Even in a book that has parents arguing and a child worrying about divorce, there is plenty of love to be found.
You speak to any dog owner and they will tell you how special the relationship is between their companion and themselves. Dogs seem to have a great understanding of human emotions and this plays out beautifully between Cosmo and Max. Their love for one another is real and there are moments when you share their heartbreak.
The narrative is told through Cosmo’s perceptive eyes as he narrates the daily goings-on at the family home, giving insights into Halloween, thanks-giving celebrations and the unique and often bizarre habits of humans. It is a hilarious view of the world through a dog’s eyes and is probably about as close as you could get to experiencing it.
Sorsiak uses many american terms which readers may not be familiar with, however this should not put them off the read as it is a good opportunity to try and unpick the word using the context of the sentence and the wider narrative and identify it’s English counterpart. Examples include; sneakers, cinnamon rolls, kibble, raccoon, Fourth of July, spray cheese, gas station, condo, bleachers, graham crackers (mmm S’mores), Thanksgiving and American football. I do have one gripe and that is the American spellings of mom and center - I do find this annoying!
Whilst we all love a happy ending this book is a reminder that sometimes no amount of love and effort is enough to keep a family together. As Cosmo says, “You can not out run the inevitable.” But that’s ok, because as we learn through Cosmo and Max, there is no need to be afraid of the unknown.
Recommended for 9+.