Friday, January 30, 2015

#​fiction #autism #dogshow​ Almost Perfect by Diane Daniels Manning

Two unlikely friends, an old woman and a boy with special needs, take an aging champion to Westminster Dog Show, and heal their troubled families.

Seventy year-old Bess Rutledge has fantasized about winning the Westminster Dog Show all her life, but now she has decided she is too old to follow her dream. She meets Benny, an angry fourteen year-old with mild autism and ADHD, who has a dream of his own: to impress his self-absorbed mother. He becomes convinced that winning Westminster with McCreery, Bess’ aging champion standard poodle, will finally make his mother proud of him. Getting Bess to go along with his plan, however, is not going to be so easy.

Almost Perfect was a truly loving book about a relationship about a older women, a young boy,and a dog. I personally loved the story. This book came at a perfect time in my life. My Kingers a Black Lab of 11.5 years passed away right after Christmas. The devotion and love that Bess has for McCreery I can totally relate to ~ that is how I feel about Kingers.

Benny's want and need for a new dog I also understand his desire. When Kingers passed my husband and I decided that we wanted to get another dog. When you are a true dog lover the need is such a driving force to find the perfect dog for you.

My hubby and I always watch the West Minster Kennel Club show on TV. We have always thought that the Smooth Fox Terrier is such a neat breed of dog.   After searching and talking to everyone we found our Smooth Fox Terrier puppy. We have named him Diesel.  Diesel is the far right puppy. He will be coming home in early March ~ the feeling Benny had - we have! Total excitement about getting a new dog family member.

In the story I feel Benny's need for having a dog and pleasing his mother was his need to feel accepted no matter what. At 14 his life had ups and downs and I feel those situations left him feeling insecure about himself and the love that others felt for him.  A dog loves you unconditionally ~ I think Benny knew that in his heart. 

For Almost Perfect I chose the Audible Version. Almost Perfect is my third audible book. The narration was excellent. Caroline Miller did an excellent job expressing emotions in her words. Very easy listening that kept me wanting to find out what was going to happen next. 

Almost Perfect is a very good read ~ I highly recommend the book.

If you are a dog lover the 
West Minster Kennel Club show will be airing on TV February 16th - 17th, 2015
It is a great show to watch - check out dog breeds and watch some amazing dogs in action!

Author Interview with Diane Daniels Manning
Q1. What gave you the idea of writing ALMOST PERFECT?
Even as a kid, reading all the great dog and horse books for children, I probably dreamed of writing a dog story myself. But the idea lay dormant for years until I had my own poodles and worked with special needs children.
Q2. How long did it take you to write ALMOST PERFECT?
I started on a version of ALMOST PERFECT almost 30 years ago. It began as an oral history of one of the great poodle breeders, was transformed into a novel about her and her dogs, and ended up in its final version when I added in the boy, Benny. Like my characters, I never give up!
Q3. If you don’t show dogs yourself, how do you know so much about that life?
I bought my first Standard Poodle from a fascinating woman who is a legend in the Poodle Club of America. She allowed me to take her oral history and introduced me to some of the great American poodle breeders. The character of Bess is inspired by her.
Q4. What made you want to write about Westminster?
Westminster is one of the world’s great sporting events, but what it represents in the book is wanting something so much you can’t give it up even if you try. That is the strength of Bess, her sticking to her dream, even though she falters along the way.
Q5. You are the co-founded and director of a therapeutic school in Houston. Do you use pet therapy there are part of the curriculum?
         At the school, I have witnessed the healing power of animals, in this case dogs, to            change people’s lives and heal families. The two Standard Poodles McCreery and              Breaker accomplish this for seventy year-old Bess and Benny, an ADHD teenage boy,          who together take both dogs to Westminster.
Q6. How do you see pet therapy help the children in your school?
        The therapy dogs (and one cat) who visit our school every week help children who             have never been able to establish long-term friendships before. They learn they can         depend on the animals, and they learn that being kind returns kindness to them.

Diane Daniels Manning is the co-founder and director of The New School in the Heights, a therapeutic school in Houston, Texas which helps children dealing with social-emotional
challenges find success in school and life. She has a Ph.D. in Education and a post-doctoral M.P.H from Harvard and is a practicing child psychoanalyst certified by the American Psychoanalytic Association. Formerly, she was the Director of the Reading and Learning Disabilities Clinic at Tufts University, Lecturer and Research Associate in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Harvard, and Chair of the Department of Education at Tulane University. She learned the inner workings of dog show kennels by writing an authorized oral history of a lifetime President of the Poodle of Club of America. Her writing awards include the Faulkner-Wisdom Novella Prize and the Women in Film and Television Short Script Competition.
When not at The New School, Diane and her writing partners, a Standard Poodle named Misty and a rescue cat named Elvira, convene at the keyboard to share great thoughts and plan the dinner menu.

Connect with her:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook


  1. Great Review! The Author seems to write with such passion and sensitivity. This would be a great movie on the Hallmark Channel or Up Network :-)

  2. This sounds like a really good read! Our pets are just like family and we have a special bond with them. I'm sorry to hear about Kingers, but glad you were able to relate to this story.

  3. Thank you for listening to Audible and writing a great review. I hope the people will see your review on the Audible site because Caroline Miller deserves kudos! I love Audible books. I listen to them walking my dog and in the car driving.
    I loved the photo of diesel and glad he is in your life. Losing a dog is so hard. My heart goes out to you, but getting a puppy is one of life's great feelings. Don't you love "new puppy" smell? Better than perfume.
    Good luck to everyone entering the contest.
    Diane Daniels Manning, author of ALMOST PERFECT

  4. I love my 3 rescue dogs so much! Mine won't ever been in a "real" dog show, but I am so thankful for them!

  5. I'm thinking this is a book I'm going to enjoy reading!

  6. Thank you for reading and reviewing ALMOST PERFECT! And good luck to everyone who enters the Trivia Contest on my site (! Sincerely, – Diane Daniels Manning, author, ALMOST PERFECT

  7. This sounds like such a great read! Congratulations on being published! :)

  8. I would love to read this book. Great review!

  9. This book looks great. I enjoyed the author interview, too.

  10. What a great topic for a book!

  11. This sounds like a great book. I love reading about dogs.

  12. What a great sounding book and Author. Love the story.

  13. what a great interview and the book sounds lovely. will check it out.

  14. Sounds like an interesting book

  15. My husband just loves the dog shows. I love that that is part of the book!

  16. I liked the interview portion of this post. I like getting to know the people behind the art I enjoy.

  17. I do believe pets can be therapeutic in your home. I have seen them relax my son as well.

  18. Going to add this book to my non-fiction wish list. Thanks so much for sharing!

  19. I've never tried books on tape, but I totally should!

  20. I like listening to stories when I'm driving. This may be a great choice for me!

  21. It sounds like a powerful story. I am going to need to try the audio version for long drives.

  22. I love all of my fur babies. It's so amazing that they have such an impact like most of them do. Great review!