A library dog helps a struggling reader.
Madeline doesn’t like to read: “Not books. Not magazines. Not even the menu on the ice cream truck.” But narrator Madeline doesn’t actually dislike reading; her aversion stems from her struggle. Madeline’s mind and mouth can’t figure out the words, and sadly, sometimes she’s mocked when she tries. Though she keeps trying, Madeline never gets the gold star her heart yearns for, instead receiving the “keep trying” heart. Papp’s soft pen-and-watercolor illustrations make it easy to empathize with the charming little white girl’s struggle. One day, Madeline’s mother (whose clear concern is shown via illustration, not text) takes her to read with library dogs. Madeline picks Bonnie, who looks “like a big, snowy polar bear” and is—along with the other library dogs—so adorable readers may attempt to hug the page. Reading to Bonnie helps Madeline finally achieve her goal of receiving a gold star for reading. Though it would have been nice to see a protagonist of color in a dog book, there is diversity in the supporting cast. The book does not mention learning disabilities, leaving readers to understand Madeline's difficulties as they choose.
A good bet for dog lovers and for readers too young for the excellent, lengthier Thank You, Mr. Falker. (Picture book. 4-8)