Willenbrock’s heartwarming debut picture book is the autobiographical story of how she came to share her home with a special shelter dog.
Told from the perspective of Marshall, Willenbrock’s dog, this tale tells of his unpleasant life in the home of a dog hoarder, where food for the dogs was so scarce that they fought each other at mealtime. In one of these fights, Marshall’s front leg was broken and his face was badly bitten. When animal rescuers finally found out about the animal hoarder and took the dogs away, Marshall was in such sorry shape that they didn’t know if he would make it. He ended up losing his damaged front leg and his face remained badly scarred, yet he describes the compassion of the humane society workers who helped him learn how to walk and run on three legs. He meets his new “mom” (owner) and adjusts to a life of freedom with her and her other dog, Mooshy. Though life is good, Marshall is insecure and nervous about how other dogs and people will react to the fact that he has only three legs and a big scar on his face, but he’s pleasantly surprised by the kindness of others. Heimbaugh’s realistic colored-pencil illustrations help bring Marshall’s story to life. Due to wordiness and the use of some bigger words—celebrity, socialize, limitations—this book will most likely work better as a read-aloud with school-age children. It also lends itself to discussions about the humane treatment of animals and discussions about bullying.
An enjoyable picture book that addresses important issues in a kid-friendly way without being preachy.