I would have bought this book based on the cover alone.
Mr. E. B. Lewis lives in New Jersey and I was fortunate to hear him speak when he came to the elementary school my kids attended. I don't know if "room parents" go to a lot of the school assemblies, but I made sure I went to his! He is an extraordinary artist, adept at capturing emotions in watercolor brushstrokes.
This is the author's debut picture book, but she's no slouch either!
I have to stop myself-- I don't want to give all the juicy tidbits away in my opening. On a scale of 1 to 5, this book is a 6.
Author: Meg Kearney
Illustrator: E.B. Lewis
Publisher: Scholastic, 2013
FICTION based on real events
Audience: age 4 and up
(an author's note inside the front page mentions
a "kill shelter" but that is not part of the story)
Themes: Dogs, Pet adoption, Kindness
"Back in the before time,
before I licked your nose
or sniffed your shoes,
before you bought my bed and bowl,
before the place you picked me out,
I ran with a mob of mutts.
Synopsis: Told from the dog's point of view, Trouper tells the story of a feral dog waiting to be adopted. The reader isn't told why Trouper is homeless. The book follows his journey to the animal shelter and his wait to find a home.
What I like about this book: Everything. Nowhere in the text does it say that the dog is handicapped. And although the handicap is shown in the illustrations, this is a handi-capable dog that plays with the other strays and acts like any other dog. As someone who has owned "special needs" pets, I adore the way the issue is a non-issue here. And oh-h-h those doggie eyes. Without being pedantic, it also addresses the tough issue of animal cruelty ("dodging stones thrown by boys who thought the world was mean, and so they had to be.") and the reward of adopting an older pet. Once again, the dog's age isn't mentioned in the text, but the graying muzzle in the illustrations lets the reader know Trouper is no puppy.
Resources/Activities: I covered this topic when I reviewed Nancy Furstinger's picture book, Maggie's Second Chance. You can read that post here. Susanna Hill also covered the topic and listed activities in her review last week of JJ The American Street Dog. I am a firm believer that kindness to animals develops kindness in other parts of life. The author, Meg Kearney, adopted the dog who is the "real" Trooper. Her website has a short video (keep the box of tissues close by!) about how Trooper joined her family. And she explains why her dog's name is spelled differently in the book.
Interesting side note:
have an unpublished manuscript about a dog waiting to be adopted, also told
from the large black dog's point of view. It was the very first picture book manuscript I wrote, several years ago.This subject is personal to me and I am always thrilled to see the big black dog get a home and story, even if it wasn't mine!
This review is part of PPBF (perfect
picture book Friday) where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. Along
with tons of writing wisdom, she keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect
Picture Books. #PPBF
Thanks for taking the time to leave me thoughts and comments!