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13 December 2022 FOREVER HOME: A DOG AND BOY LOVE STORY by Henry Cole, Scholastic Press, August 2022, 48p., ISBN: 978-1-338-78404-6


“Take a good look around you

Take a good look, you're bound to see

That you and me

We're meant to be for each other

Silly girl”

– Lennon/McCartney, “Martha My Dear,” written about Paul McCartney’s Old English sheepdog, Martha (1968)


“Approximately 6.3 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.1 million are dogs and 3.2 million are cats…Each year, approximately 920,000 shelter animals are euthanized (390,000 dogs and 530,000 cats)...Approximately 4.1 million shelter animals are adopted each year (2 million dogs and 2.1 million cats)....About 810,000 animals who enter shelters as strays are returned to their owners. Of those, 710,000 are dogs and 100,000 are cats.”

– ASPCA 2019 estimates


FOREVER HOME is a wordless picture book about a boy and a dog. The story begins with three spreads that precede the title page. On the front endpaper there is a view of a neighborhood of row houses. Zooming in, we see a forlorn dog sitting on a stoop in front of a house, in front of which is a For Sale sign. We then see the dog digging in a trash bin, dodging traffic, and taking shelter in a cardboard carton.


After the copyright page, the story introduces the other half of this love story: the dog-crazy boy, out on the street, dog-watching. Back home, the boy earnestly begs his two fathers for a dog. But his dads point out that his dog-themed bedroom is an absolute pigsty. 


Nevertheless, the boy is resolute in his desire for a dog. He cleans his room. He demonstrates his ability to be responsible by creating an imaginary dog to care for. He acquires a bright red leash and regularly walks the “dog,” even in the rain!


At one point, the boy and the dog cross paths on the street and interact.  And then, when the dads relent and the boy is brought to choose a shelter animal, it happens that the dog has been rounded up and is available for adoption. Fortunately for both the boy and the dog, they are made for one another. It’s a fairy tale ending to a story that started with the dog’s abandonment. 


Henry Cole’s warm, inviting pen-and-ink illustrations are black and white, except for the bright red leash, which centers our focus on the invisible dog that is eventually replaced with the real thing. 


This is a superb tale for imbuing a love for animals and for showing a young person taking responsibility, exhibiting stick-to-it-ive-ness, and being kind. The author’s note describes the real story that inspired the book and encourages readers to consider adopting a pet. 


Richie Partington, MLIS

Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.pbworks.com





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