Madeline Finn does not like to read. She does not like to read anywhere at any time. It is hardest at school when asked to read aloud. It is too hard to figure out the words, make her mouth work and listen to the giggles of classmates. Madeline desperately wants to receive a star sticker from her teacher – but all she ever gets are hearts that say Keep Trying. She wishes upon a star that she will get her very own star. But everyday she struggles to read aloud. One day at the library she is introduced to a reading dog. Bonnie, a big white dog, does not giggle, does not squirm – she just listens. Bonnie and Madeline read together every week. Madeline Finn learns that reading is fun and with Bonnie by her side she is not afraid to go slow or make mistakes.
Find a copy of this book at the library and find out if Madeline Finn earns her own star!
The Portland Public Library has Reading Dogs – Emmie and Flip. They are at the library on Tuesday afternoons from 3:30 to 5:00. Registration is required. Come and read to one of them – perhaps Madeline Finn and the Library Dog would be the perfect choice.
10 double-page spreads introduce the numbers 1-10 – and animals that are vulnerable and endangered. Each spread includes an illustration of animals in the accompanying number and has a short free verse poem about the species. The book is hard to categorize: it doesn’t totally work as a counting book because the numbers are spelled out only; the information about the animals really targets school aged children and not preschoolers; the subtle hint that counting the species is a reminder of dwindling numbers targets adult readers; the impassioned foreword by Virginia McKenna (animal activist and actress from Born Free) is definitely written for the adult reader. Still it is an important book – but where will it go in the collection?
The illustrations are exquisite. They are charcoal drawings that are photo-realistic. The cover drawing of the lion is as rich and detailed as any photo. The book is over-sized which will make shelving difficult. It is like a coffee-table book for the younger reader. It is a beautiful tribute to endangered species and worth looking for a place on your shelves to host it.
The reader needs to study the opening scene of this book and figure out what they are looking at. It appears to be a view of a sidewalk from above with a line of trees to the left and people walking. Turning the page a wheelchair begins to edge into the scene from the right – another turn shows a head peering over a balcony to watch below. The scene is always the same except for the changing bodies – dog walkers, bicyclists, walkers, children playing games, kite flier,umbrellas in the rain and so on. The monotony and loneliness of the girl are palpable by the sameness and the lack of color. In this scantily worded book – the girl calls out to those below to “look up” – she wants to be noticed and a part of the scene. Finally, a boy looks up and notices her. He lies on the ground so she can see more than the top of his head. A woman joins him and soon there are nine people and a dog on the ground looking up. Then the girl looks up at the reader and smiles. The turn of the page shows the same scene with color – the world is now different and kinder. If you look carefully you will see an empty wheelchair with a smiling girl and boy standing next to it. The interesting perspective of this book delivers its power. It is a tale of friendship, warmth and grace.