Title: The Comeback DogThe Comeback Dog
Author: Jane Resh Thomas
Illustrator: Troy Howell
Pages: 61
Recommended Ages: 8-12
Star Rating: ★★★★

Not your typical animal story.

The Story.

Once Daniel was a happy boy – happy with his wonderful dog, Captain. Now Captain is dead and Daniel never wants to go through the pain of loss again; even if it means that he never has another pet.

And then he finds the dog. Huddled in a culvert, it is barely alive. It has no injuries, but it is nearly starved and half frozen. Dan’s thoughts are no longer on his own pain, but on the dog’s, whom he names Lady. Although the veterinarian is pessimistic, Dan refuses to give up hope.

Slowly, Lady begins to recover. But as she grows more energetic, it becomes apparent that she is accustomed to abuse; she cowers and slinks as she walks and bares her teeth when Dan tries to pet her.

Can Dan build up their relationship? Will Lady ever be truly healthy and happy?

Discussion.

I didn’t think I would like this book because it sounded so sad. And it was sad – but I actually liked it. Here’s why.

Daniel is a boy of good character. He is deeply pained by the loss of his dog and, when we meet him, he is in a slight depression. He wants no part in any relationship that might hurt him similarly. But when he comes upon Lady, his instinctive response is one of compassion – here is a hurt creature, the creature deserves to be helped. He gives up the comfort of his bed to sleep by Lady and feed her throughout the night. As his mother says,

I’m glad for your kind heart, Daniel. [pg. 25]

Dan initially tries to get out of his chores while he takes care of Lady, but his mother reminds them that each of them has their own responsibilities and that if he wants to heal Lady, he must shoulder a double load. He agrees and works doubly hard.

In the end, we have hope that both Daniel and Lady will heal. I liked this situation so much better than the typical animal story in which the story ends with the death of the pet rather than its installment.

‘Dang’ is used once.

Conclusion. Good.

Review © 2014 Laura Verret

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