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The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

I read The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling several times as a young girl and was completely drawn into the classic tale of the man-cub, Mowgli, his kinship with animals and the different rules by which man and animal abide. As I read The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski I felt that old familiar pull. A young boy with choices, special animals with choices, both caught between two worlds.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelleby David Wroblewski is set in Northern Wisconsin in The Chequamegon National Forest and surrounding area.   Remote and heavily wooded, teeming with wildlife and lakes, The Chequamegon National Forest is the ideal wilderness hideaway for a boy not wanting to be found.

From the Publisher

Born mute, speaking only in sign, Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life with his parents on their farm in remote northern Wisconsin. For generations, the Sawtelles have raised and trained a fictional breed of dog whose thoughtful companionship is epitomized by Almondine, Edgar’s lifelong friend and ally. But with the unexpected return of Claude, Edgar’s paternal uncle, turmoil consumes the Sawtelles’ once peaceful home. When Edgar’s father dies suddenly, Claude insinuates himself into the life of the farm—and into Edgar’s mother’s affections.

Grief-stricken and bewildered, Edgar tries to prove Claude played a role in his father’s death, but his plan backfires—spectacularly. Forced to flee into the vast wilderness lying beyond the farm, Edgar comes of age in the wild, fighting for his survival and that of the three yearling dogs who follow him. But his need to face his father’s murderer and his devotion to the Sawtelle dogs turn Edgar ever homeward.

David Wroblewski is a master storyteller, and his breathtaking scenes—the elemental north woods, the sweep of seasons, an iconic American barn, a fateful vision rendered in the falling rain—create a riveting family saga, a brilliant exploration of the limits of language, and a compulsively readable modern classic. HarperCollins Publishers

Book Club Ideas for The Story of Edgar Sawtelle


Paw Print Balloons Party Pups Plates


Book Club Menu for The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

As your guests arrive what better than to have an assortment of  yummy Wisconsin Cheese and crackers laid out.

babybel cheese, milwaukee beer

Get the Old Milwaukee out of the fridge and fire up the pit … tonite’s dinner is Grilled Brats with Red Dog Beer Sauce and Beer Drinking!

Bratwurst, sausage

I’ll serve up some Wilted Spinach Salad and

bacon lettuce cheese salad

Wisconsin Wild Rice to go along with those grilled brats.

Rice Recipes

While trying to find out more about the State of Wisconsin, I kept coming across references to Wisconsin State Fair Cream Puffs.  I knew I had to give these a try and I wasn’t disappointed.  Be sure to save some room for Wisconsin State Fair Cream Puffs

cream puff pastries, pastry recipes

Bet ya can’t stop at just one, eh?

The work is done, the guests have gone and your belly is full.  It’s time to stretch out your legs, kick back and enjoy this Wisconsin digestif …

whisky, cherry, old fashion glass, drink recipes

Savor this  Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned.

Ahhh… trust me this drink is not meant for the weak of heart.  But, what else would I expect for those stout Wisconsinites.  Here’s to you Scott!

Book Club Resource


  • “Edgar Sawtelle is a boy without a voice, but his world, populated by the dogs his family breeds, is anything but silent. This is a remarkable story about the language of friendship—a language that transcends words.”- Dalia Sofer, bestselling author of The Septembers of Shiraz
  • “The most enchanting debut novel of the summer….a great, big, mesmerizing read, audaciously envisioned as classic Americana…One of the great pleasures of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is its free-roaming, unhurried progress, enlivened by the author’s inability to write anything but guilelessly captivating prose.” – New York Times
  • “Here is a big-hearted novel you can fall into, get lost in and finally emerge from reluctantly, a little surprised that the real world went on spinning while you were absorbed…grand and unforgettable.” – Washington Post Book World


  1. There are several ghostly apparitions throughout the novel.  What is the significance of the different hauntings?
  2. Discuss how Edgar’s inability to speak contributes to the story.  Does it give Edgar a special understanding of the dogs?  What does Edgar learn from the dogs?
  3. Edgar has always been curious about the circumstances of his parents’ first meeting.  Why does Edgar decline to hear his parents’ story when finally given the opportunity?
  4. Which of the Sawtelles’ dogs is your favorite and why?  Compare and contrast the different dogs.  What does Essay decide at the end?
  5. David Wroblewski says that he “…always imagined that Edgar’s story was going to draw heavily from Hamlet.”  Discuss the storyline and character parallels that occur throughout the novel with Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

The Author

David Wroblewski is the author of the internationally bestselling novel The Story Of Edgar Sawtelle, a 2008 Oprah Book Club pick, a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, winner of the 2008 Colorado Book Award, Indie Choice Best Author Discovery award, and the Midwest Bookseller Association’s Choice award. The Story of Edgar Sawtellewas selected as one of the best books of 2008 by numerous magazines and newspapers around the country, and has been translated into over 25 languages.  Visit David Wroblewski Web Page

Author/Book Awards

  • 2008 Oprah Book Club pick
  • Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection
  • winner of the 2008 Colorado Book Award, Indie Choice Best Author Discovery award
  • the Midwest Bookseller Association’s Choice award

Personal Insights, Favorite Quotes, etc…

(Edgar Sawtelle’s favorite passage from Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book)

…”They fed me behind bars from an iron pan till one night I felt that I was Bagheera the Panther and no man’s plaything and I broke the silly lock with one blow of my paw, and came away; and because I had learned the ways of men, I became more terrible in the jungle than Shere Khan. Is it not so?”

“Yes,” said Mowgli, “all the jungle fear Bagheera – all except Mowgli.”

“Oh, thou art a man’s cub,” said the Black Panther, very tenderly; “and even as I returned to my jungle, so thou must go back to men at last; –  to the men who are thy brothers, – if thou art not killed in the Council.”

“But why –  but why should any wish to kill me?” said Mowgli…


I’ve never had the pleasure of visiting the State of Wisconsin, even though my brother-in-law Scott is a Wisconsinite.  Other than great cheese, bratwurst, and the Packers, I didn’t know too much about this state.  My lovely nieces shared some photos with me and I was quite impressed by the beauty and verdancy of the landscape.

Wisconsin lake view

Wisconsin lake chair on dock

Off to the Wisconsin State Fair

Dear Lisa brought over some homemade caramel and candy apples and shared her recipe, so with my beautiful creampuffs (and a little help from photoshop,) we were transported to the  Wisconsin State Fair.

Wisconsin State Fair

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Feel free to add your ideas, comments or book review below.

  1. I had a book club for Edgar Sawtelle and served all the food in various dog bowls.
    collars and leashes were also scattered around the table.

    I had a dog biscuit shaped cookie cutter and had made cookies in that shape, as well.

    Comment by Anonymous

  2. Fantastic ideas!!!! I bet your party was awesome! Do you have any photos? Please upload if you do. I’d love to see them!

    Comment by Annie