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Chester and Gus

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  1,395 ratings  ·  256 reviews
You meet your person and you connect. You know that you’re meant to be together. Then you learn what that person needs and you do it for them. I can’t imagine anything else quite so fulfilling.

Chester has always wanted to become a service dog. When he fails his certification test, though, it seems like that dream might never come true—until a family adopts him to be a comp
Hardcover, 249 pages
Published April 4th 2017 by HarperCollins
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Average rating 4.31  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,395 ratings  ·  256 reviews

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Ami Polonsky
Dec 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
From E.C.Polonsky., age 8

This is my favorite book so far.

Chester and Gus is about a service dog that goes through training but does not succeed. Then he meets his person and his name is Gus. Gus has autism. Chester and Gus are at first scared of each other but when Chester settles in they start to talk through their minds. Then later in the book they realize that Gus has epilepsy and Chester can smell the change in his brain so he can detect 15 to 20 minutes before he will have a seizure.

My favo
Jan 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to Harper Collins and Edelweiss for early access to this book.

EXCELLENT story! Very true to life. The story line is compelling and very hard to put down. I had to read to the end to find out what happened. The characters are so alive and realistic, I became very invested in the outcome of the story. While a fantasy, it gives a wonderfully realistic picture of autism and the challenges and triumphs it presents in the lives of people who have this condition and their families. I LOVED Chest
Craig Wiesner
Jan 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Based on an Advanced Review Copy (ARC) of the book....

What would you do if you realized that the one thing, the singular purpose of your life, was to help someone else, one particular person, and it wasn't at all clear how to do that? In this book we meet Chester, a very smart dog who flunked out of service-dog school because of his fear of loud noises, who ends up being adopted by a family with an autistic son named Gus, in the hopes that Chester will help Gus... somehow. Chester, who knows his
Jan 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book! I'm probably going to put this as a Staff Pick at the bookstore I work at for a few reasons:

1) What a great way to introduce autism to a young reader who doesn't necessarily know what that means! By having Chester, our canine narrator, learn about Gus and how he thinks, kids (and adults!) can see a genuine, judgment free exploration of how autism can manifest. Dogs love unconditionally, so having a narrator that loves Gus and just accepts his differences is a great way
Margaret Boling
3/20/2017 ** You know it's a good book when you wake up at three in the morning with the narrator talking in your head and heart. Chester, an unlicensed service dog, completely won me over. He sees so clearly what Gus needs - Gus who is autistic, who's started having seizures, and who has secrets at school. Chester's narration gives voice to the voiceless, showing the reader how much is going on in Gus's world that his parents and school staff don't see. Even while we understand so much more abo ...more
Jan 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Gus is autistic. Chester is a therapy dog in training. Gus needs something or someone to help him break the barrier between himself and the world. Chester knows he is the dog to accomplish this. Such a heart warming story. Loved it!
Apr 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I wish I could give this more stars. I read it in an afternoon. I love Chester. I love Gus.
I love a dog story that has so much happiness and joy and hope. You know, like a dog.

I love this book.
Cassie Jerusa
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Chester has my heart! Written from the POV of an almost-service dog as he (Chester) tries to build a relationship with his human, Gus, who happens to be autistic. This book will make you laugh, cry, and remind you why dogs truly are man's best friend. A MUST add to your library. ...more
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Chester is a chocolate lab who has "failed" the service animal course due to his fear of loud noises.
Gus is a fifth grader who has extreme autism.

The story is told in Chester's voice and observances.

Gus's family adopts Chester in hopes that he will be able to possibly help cause a break-through with Gus. However, when Gus first meets Chester he screams and screams and screams, causing poor Chester to flee and hide. Maybe this wasn't a good idea, but Chester decides to "talk" to Gus through thou
Scott Fillner
Nov 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful book! Many times I have read books told from a dog's point of view that are fun, light, and entertaining. Those are great books, but then books like this come along and act as mirrors and windows into life allowing you to connect and learn more about topics that are important, but we might not know a lot about. Well this book is one of those books.

It is a wonderful book, told through a dog's perspective (Chester) about autism, seizures, and service and therapy dos. It has SO many teac
Oct 21, 2018 rated it liked it
It’s a sweet story, but the human characters weren’t as well-rounded as I’d have liked. I was frustrated that Gus’ mom was just a ball of nerves and anxiety while his dad was eternally cool-headed. I did tear up at reading the afterword, though, and how McGovern was inspired to write this.
First, let me begin by saying that I am a dog lover! We had three dogs until our oldest one, Buddy, died. Now we have two: a lab/border collie mix, Rocky, and a Bichon Frise (the most adorable dogs) named Jazzmine, Jazz, Jazzy, depending on our mood and hers.

I needed a book for a challenge, so I headed to B&N and talked with a couple ladies that work there and they led me to this one which I bought for my granddaughter for her birthday. I was pleasantly surprised to come home after reading a fe
Apr 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I won this book as a ARC giveaway from Goodreads.

This was an amazing book. It was a little too real for me in places-but honestly that just made it even better and grab me more. I spent most of my time reading this book with tears in my eyes for that reason, but I also spent time laughing and smiling. The isolation Chester and Gus feel and the companionship they share is so relatable. Perhaps we can talk, but often we feel like no one is listening. I also felt a lot of kinship with Amelia. I di
Mar 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely wonderful book! Chester finds his person and fights to both keep him and help him! Very heartwarming!
Cassie Thomas
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Oh my goodness. This book. Told from Chester's, the dog, point of view tells an amazing story about finding your person as a failed service dog. So many themes woven in the story line that can apply to children in their every day life. I absolutely will recommend to grades 3-7! ...more
What a powerful book. The reader is really given insight into the workings of a autistic child and how their thinking may be different then ours. The storytelling device of telling the story from the dog's perspective is brilliant. A great read for students in grades 3-5 who really like realistic fiction. ...more
Marla Sigler
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book has so many wonderful points to recommend.
First it brings some attention and understanding to autism, from several views - the parents, the school, the dog and the child.
Children with special needs require a creative twist. Dogs like Chester have a special gift.
Putting them together gave Chester purpose and Gus a voice.
The messages are many here but the most resounding is that having a purpose, being able to do a job, to be helpful, is a wonderful feeling.
Ava Rutigliano
Oct 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Gus is a teen boy with nonverbal autism, when his service dog Chester is adopted into the family he doesn’t know how to act. Chester doesn’t know why Gus acts any differently than other owners. Chester was the litter of his runt, always feeling far behind, and never good enough compared to the rest of his siblings. He always had the dream of being a service dog, but once he failed his test, he never thought that it could be possible for him. Cheser struggles to gain this boy’s trust, as he shows ...more
Audrey S.
May 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I very much like this book. It gave a thoughtful but entertaining look into the world of service dogs, and all they do for their people. I enjoyed the lighthearted telling from the perspective of Chester the dog, and the feelings that were brought up as Chester goes through his training and learns to help his person. A really great book for anyone who loves a dog in their lives, and wants to know how a dog becomes a help to their person.
Kaethe Douglas
Apr 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Chester and Gus - Cammie McGovern  I am so emotional these days that just reading the blurb made me tear up. What a good dog! I liked that it was written from the dog's perspective, and that Gus was so uncommunicative.
Library copy 
Emily Montjoy
Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved this story of an autistic boy & his therapy dog. Written from the dog's pov, this is a book that will touch your heart as you read about the power of a dog's love. Highly recommend! ...more
Alex  Baugh
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade, dogs, autism
Chester, a chocolate lab, would have been a perfect service dog except for his fear of loud noises. Unable to be certified, Chester is chosen by the parents of a 10 year-old nonverbal boy with autism named Gus, hoping that Chester’s help, Gus will be able to attend public school. At first, Gus won’t even let Chester near him, but slowly allows to the dog near him. For his part, Chester knows he has found the person he was meant to be with.

Gus’s mother Sara is desperate for her son to be able to
Carolyn Deas
Apr 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book stole my heart.

I am a firm believer that animals have more capabilities than their people give them credit for. This book shows how a dog that thought of himself as a failure worked hard to find a new purpose in life.

Chester was trained to be a service dog, but after he failed his certification because he hates out noises, he thought he'd never get another chance. When a family comes along in search of a friend for their autistic son, Gus, Chester bring it upon himself to help this boy
Mar 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Chester, a chocolate Labrador, tells his story. He dearly wishes to find and serve HIS human, but the story opens with his failing to become a service dog in spite of training. In a fortunate turn of events, he is placed with ten year old Gus' family to assist Gus, an autistic boy. Neither Chester nor Gus and his family are too sure about it at its outset, but it sticks. The story takes place largely at Gus' home and in his special ed. classroom. The challenges of school lead to changes of place ...more
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Therapy/service dogs are fascinating to young readers. Chester a chocolate lab puppy in training to become a service dog, fails his important eligibility test to become a therapy dog because of his intolerance to loud noises. However he has one more chance to help "his person" when he is assigned as a companion dog to a severely autistic boy, who almost never speaks. Chester is the narrator of the story, chronicling the tale of what occurs from the moment he moves into 10-year-old Gus' home. Che ...more
Brittany Van
HarperCollins, 2018, 272 pgs., Genre: Fiction, Grade level: 3-5, GR level: S, Lexile level: 680L
Chester and Gus is an inspiring young adult novel due to its positive perspective and outlook on life regardless of overcoming fear. This book reveals how a dog named Chester learns how to help and love his new owner Gus after failing his service dog test. At first, Chester is really challenged by Gus' behavior and decisions due to his autism. Eventually though, the two are able to overcome their fear
Tess (Book_Voyage)
WOW. I am speechless. Chester, the dog narrating this book filled me with hope and wonder, while Gus' story tugged tightly at my heart strings. The special way animals communicate with their humans is truly a wondrous sight to behold. However, what makes it even more fascinating is when that animal, like a seeing eye dog, performs a special job for their human that only they can do. A bond like that is so special and unbreakable. It is something they will have forever.
What an inspiring, differen
Ruth Ann
Told from the dog's (Chester) point of view, this is a delightful and heartfelt story about finding purpose and home.
Chester is born in a litter of dogs expected to become service dogs. Due to a problem with loud sounds, Chester isn't selected for the extended training program. His initial handler recognizes his intelligence and extensive vocabulary. Penny would like to keep him and continue training him, but that's not allowed and Chester ends up being sent to a family.
He is confused about what
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a marvelous middle grade book. Cammie has a remarkable ability to help us to understand people who might be neurotypically different- and this book does not disappoint. We see the world, and Gus, a non-verbal boy with autism, through the endearing and remarkably empathetic perspective of Chester, his service dog. I loved Gus, Chester, and this book. If more kids read this book, they would be able to have more empathy for their classmates like Gus.
Rachel Snyder
May 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
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Cammie McGovern was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford and received the Nelson Algren Award in short fiction. Her work has been published in Redbook, Seventeen, Glimmer Train, TriQuarterly, and other publications.

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