Book Review of Stella by McCall Hoyle

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Book Review of Stella by McCall Hoyle

A good dog (or any pet) story can warm your heart, make you cry, or bring back wonderful memories of time spent with your own pets. A few I have loved over the years are Where the Red Fern Grows, Call of the Wild, and Black Beauty. If you’re looking for a new animal story, you are in for a treat today! Stella by McCall Hoyle is a new book published by Shadow Mountain that will tear at your heartstrings, make you want a dog, and make you thankful for the dogs that protect us.


Even dogs deserve a second chance.

Ever since she was a puppy, Stella was trained to use her powerful beagle nose to sniff out dangerous chemicals and help her handler keep people safe. But during a routine security inspection, Stella misses the scent of an explosive. The sound of the blast is loud and scary. Unable to go back to work because of her anxiety, Stella is retired as a working dog.

When a young girl named Cloe wants to adopt Stella, the beagle knows this is her last chance to prove her worth. But how? When Stella smells a strange chemical inside Cloe’s body, a scent that surges just before the girl has a seizure, Stella’s nose makes the connection. But how can Stella warn her new family without them thinking she’s having an anxiety attack? How can she convince others that she can be a new kind of service dog and hopefully save Cloe’s life?

Told from Stella’s perspective, this story is about a special dog who must find the courage to overcome her fears in order to help save a young girl with epilepsy.”

My Book Review:

Stella works as a bomb-sniffing dog. She’s the one (with her handler) who keeps us safe. Then, a terrible accident occurs, and Stella becomes riddled with anxiety and is unable to perform her duties. Stella gets moved from home to home, trying to find an owner that will be able to handle her and her anxiety. After several failed homes, Stella finally arrives at the home of Chloe and her mom Esperanza. Will Stella finally be able to settle into a forever home?

This story is written well. The characters are well-developed, realistic, and become your best friends. Stella’s voice in the story fits her perfectly, and it corresponds exactly with what I think a dog would think and say (if she could). Stella makes a great character. She is strong, but she has her flaws and limitations. She tries extremely hard, but sometimes comes up short. Chloe is super cute. She comes across as so sincere and genuine. I love the relationship between Chloe and Stella.

I love the characters and the relationships between the characters in this story. The overall storyline is endearing and heartwarming. I love how it shows the bond between a pet and her human. There are many lessons to be learned in this book: friendship, not giving up on your friends, loyalty, hard work, and forgiving yourself are just a few. It’s a very cute story, and I enjoyed it.

With this in mind, I just want to give a quick warning. This book is quite heavy. Some of the events in the book are complex and deep, and may be too intense for some middle-graders. When I was reading the book, I wasn’t sure who it was intended for. The storyline and characters seem better for middle-graders, but the events seem better for early YA. Therefore, I believe it is best recommended for 6th-graders and up (high middle-graders). Of course, each child has a different maturity level. Parents may want to read it first to see if it is appropriate for their child.   

I do love the lessons taught in this book, and I love how Stella and Chloe work together to help each other. Overall, it’s a sweet story. Just keep in mind that there are some heavy topics and events.

Click HERE to watch the book trailer.

Content Rating PG+Content Rating: PG+ (There is no profanity or “intimacy” in this book; however, this book does include descriptions of some traumatic events that may be too heavy or intense for younger readers. There is some minor violence.)

Age Recommendation: 6th-graders (12 yrs)+

My Rating: 3.5/5

3.5 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


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