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RESCUE AND JESSICA by Jessica Kensky


A Life-Changing Friendship

by Jessica Kensky & Patrick Downes ; illustrated by Scott Magoon

Pub Date: April 3rd, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-7636-9604-7
Publisher: Candlewick

A service dog helps a white girl adjust to the loss of her legs in a story based on true events.

After failing training to be a guide dog, Rescue, a black Lab, worries about learning to be a service dog. And after her left leg is amputated, Jessica worries about learning to walk again. When Rescue becomes her service dog, they overcome their fears together. Kensky (on whom the character Jessica is based) and Downes, both amputees themselves, state in simple sentences how Rescue and Jessica adapt to physical and emotional changes. Rescue learns new tasks, such as retrieval. Jessica learns new ways to stand and walk—first on one prosthetic leg, then, after her injured right leg is also amputated, on two. Soft digital illustrations depict their respective challenges. (Readers will note that one illustration seems incongruous—the picture accompanying the text “Rescue brought her the things she needed” shows Rescue pressing a crosswalk signal button.) The authors don’t dwell on Jessica’s frustration; Rescue’s buoyant effect on her well-being makes pity impossible. Magoon uses dark backgrounds to symbolize Jessica’s sadness and fear, but scenes with Rescue are open and bright; with Rescue nearby, even the night after her second amputation is lightened (via lamplight and stars). An authors’ note reveals that both are survivors of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and includes information on National Education for Assistance Dog Services, the organization that trained Rescue.

A gentle introduction to service dogs and acquired disability.

(Picture book. 4-6)