Friday, September 5, 2014

Book Review: A Home for Dakota (children's book, puppy mills)

A Home for Dakota by Jan Grover (Gryphon, 2008, 24 pages, $15.95, ages 5 and up, in the Sit! Stay! Read! series)

A Story of Hope, Fulfilled

How I wish A Home for Dakota were written in 2014 so I could claim it as my book of the year!

Warm. Second chances. Delightful illustrations.

Dakota was honored with the ASPCA’s Henry Bergh Award, Fiction, Companion Animals, Children’s Book Honor and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) Youth KIND Children’s Book Award (best children’s picture book of the year) so you know it is special.

A Kid’s Book for Grown-Ups, That We All Need to Read

Before Dakota was Dakota, she was simply dog #241, a breeder-dog in a puppy mill whose puppies were taken away, time and again. Dog #241 lived in a crate all day, every day.

Until Emma

Emma took her and comforted her, gave her a name, bathed her, gave her medicine and her first-ever hug. Slowly Dakota’s fur started to grow back but in patches. And then a little girl came to meet her - but didn’t want her because Dakota wasn’t yet perfect. 

How could such sadness happen twice to one little dog? What will become of her? To see what happens to girl and dog, you have to read the book. It is a book you will remember.

Gryphon Press, A Voice for the Voiceless

The Sit! Stay! Read! Series of books for children by The Gryphon Press have garnered many awards since they began in 2006 - and deservedly so. The illustrations are water-color warm and touchable, the stories are sad yet hopeful, and they impart a powerful lesson for children and grown-ups alike. Lessons we may not want to hear but need to help with. Puppy-mill puppies, abandoned dogs, . . . .

Other titles in The Gryphon Press series include Buddy Unchained (2006), At the Dog Park with Sam and Lucy (2006), Max Talks to Me (2007) and Are You Ready For Me? (2007), as well as It’s Raining Pups and Dogs (2013). These books were recently named to the recommended reading list of the National Humane Education Society.

Each book also includes a fact page in the back. Dakota’s info page for adults is the best information on the subject that I have ever read, from Definition to Conditions to What we can do to ‘what puppy mill dogs need to successfully live with a family’ to websites and other resources.

The Value of Dakota

I believe these books should be required reading for all first-graders.  They are difficult subjects, handled gently and with hope for change in the future – for all animals and people alike. For the dogs in the book, hope is turned into love and a future.

Maybe we can change the world after all!

Read more about it:

Here is a teaching guide to use, the existence of which tells you it is a great book!

Disclaimer: I checked this book out of my public library.

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