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by Meika Hashimoto & Gina Loveless ; illustrated by Genevieve Kote

Pub Date: June 15th, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-5248-6806-2
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

In five interweaving stories, local suburban kids bond with pets and gain social-emotional skills thanks to Animal Rescue Friends, their local shelter.

In Chapter 1, brown-skinned, fluffy-ponytailed Maddie bonds with a stray dog only to surrender him to Animal Rescue Friends when her landlord reminds her mom of their apartment’s no-pet policy. In Chapter 2, a family of ferrets helps type A shelter volunteer Bell, a White-presenting girl with glasses, learn her limits and know when to ask for help. In Chapter 3, Mikey Ramirez, a brown-skinned Latinx boy, is anxious about the crowds at ARF’s Adoption Day, but a feisty bunny helps him stand up to bullies. Chapter 4 sees Noah, who presents Black, win over an ornery stray cat, reassess his priorities, and model kinder ways to have fun for his friend and neighborhood bully Jimmy, a White boy. The final chapter unites the whole crew as Maddie learns that the owner of her favorite shelter pup has been searching for him and her plans for a final special afternoon with him go awry. Characters have a uniform (thin) body type, but their skin color, hair texture, and implied racial and ethnic identities vary. Clear lines, bright colors, and a semirealistic cartoon style exude friendliness and combine with adorable animals to make a highly appealing read. An extensive behind-the-scenes introduction to how comics are made, written by Whitney Matheson, profiles some comics creators for kids and outlines different creative roles and processes with straightforward enthusiasm.

Cute critters, compassionate kids, and community—what’s not to love?

(glossary) (Graphic fiction. 7-10)