First Dog Fala
Elizabeth Van Steenwyk
Illustrated by Michael G. Montgomery
Peachtree Publishers, LTD, 2008
This beautifully illustrated picture book tells the story of how a little Scottish terrier named Fala came into President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s life and how popular he – Fala – became. In 1940 Roosevelt’s cousin gave him a little puppy and he fell in love with him. He named him Murray the Outlaw of Fala Hill after one of his Scottish ancestors, or Fala, for short. Soon Fala was everyone’s favorite White House resident; he even met Winston Churchill in 1941. One of the few places he wasn’t allowed was in during FDR’s ‘fireside chats’ because he couldn’t promise to be quiet. Fala had a tendency to wander off the White House grounds and was always recovered by the Secret Service.
The illustrations in the book are my favorite thing about it. They are oil paintings on canvas and very well done. There’s just enough detail to get the point across, lights and shadows figure heavily in them and on almost every page is a pencil drawing of Fala as well. The print is a little small for early readers, but it’s a wonderful read-aloud book and a good way to learn about our nation’s history.
Elizabeth Van Steenwyk (I was unable to find a verifiable photo of the author)
Illustrator Michael G. Montgomery (Check out his website!)