A Novel About the Little Dog Who Almost Changed History


A highly original, tragicomic novel as seen through Sirius, an extraordinary dog who helps his Jewish family escape from Germany to California, becomes a Hollywood star, and ultimately contributes to Hitler’s downfall.

Levi, a fox terrier, lives with his family in a grand townhouse in Berlin. Each day he enjoys a walk through the neighborhood, where people greet him by name. But the year is 1938, and Berlin is no longer safe for Levi or the Liliencrons, his Jewish owners. They rename him Sirius, after the constellation, to protect him.

One night, Nazi troops storm the city and begin to search houses. Sirius alerts the family, and they manage to flee to California. In his new home, Carl Liliencron becomes a chauffeur and Sirius befriends everyone from Humphrey Bogart and Cary Grant to Rita Hayworth and Jack Warner. He is renamed Hercules and becomes a canine movie star. Little does Sirius know that he’ll soon have to perform his most difficult acting role yet, when through a series of exceptional events as World War II unfolds, he winds up at the right hand of Hitler himself. Can Sirius help the German resistance, derail the Führer, and reunite with his family? Or is the cost of peace too high?

With charisma, heart, and delightfully spry prose, Sirius is an enchanting fairy tale about love and humanity and a roving exploration of a momentous historical moment. Like My Dog Skip and The Artist, this feel-good novel will make you stand up and cheer.
  • Scribner | 
  • 256 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781501144998 | 
  • October 2016
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Sirius includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


A highly original and utterly charming debut novel, Sirius follows the story of a globetrotting fox terrier with star quality. Levi lives with his family, the Liliencrons, in Berlin. But it’s 1938, and Berlin is no place for a Jewish dog. To escape the notice of the Nazis, Levi changes his name to Sirius, and the Liliencrons flee—to Hollywood. When Sirius stumbles on to a movie set, it’s clear that he might just be the next big thing. But as any little dog knows, sometimes the world has a mind of its own. It’s not long before Sirius finds himself back in Berlin—and without his family to protect him. When he inadvertently wins the love and loyalty of Adolf Hitler, Sirius finds his Hollywood charm has the potential to change the world.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. The book opens with a scene in which Professer Liliencron steps out of his house and takes his dog, Levi, down a small side street to play at the first tree. Jonathan Crown writes, “The professor and his dog. Always at the same time, always at the sa see more

About the Author

Jonathan Crown
(c) Urbschat

Jonathan Crown

Jonathan Crown was born in Berlin in 1953, where he currently lives with his dachshund, Kelly. Sirius is his first novel.