In Baker’s debut picture book, a rescue dog recounts his life’s journey.
As a rambunctious puppy, a black Labrador retriever named Buddy lives with his boy, Toby. Although Toby loves him, the family often mistreats him. One day, Toby’s dad ties Buddy to a tree, abandoning him. Luckily, he’s discovered by a couple who takes him to a shelter where workers rename him Jack. Jack finds comfort in Jill, his cage mate. Eventually Jack and Jill are taken into a truck filled with dogs. When Jill goes to her “forever home” Jack is devastated. Finally, the pup meets his new family, a nice couple who call him Jackson. Their home has a yard and a bed just for him. Despite his painful past, Jackson is now loved by “mom and dad.” The colorful, realistic pictures by debut illustrator Blanchfield capture the Lab’s emotional responses. Baker emphasizes human kindness, like when a worker sleeps in a sleeping bag alongside caged dogs. Featuring instances of animal abuse, this book is most appropriate for older children. Nuanced situations may require adult explanation, like when Jackson is neutered (he recalls feeling sore, made to wear a “bucket” on his head). The afterword suggests ways humans can address the overpopulation of dogs, like neutering and spaying.
Young animal lovers will appreciate this heartening, realistically rendered tale.