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Saturday, August 26, 2017

Madeline Finn and the Library Dog, written and illustrated by Lisa Papp. Peachtree, Fitzhenry and Whiteside. 2016. $23.95 ages 3 and up

"And I ESPECIALLY do not like to read out loud. "Keep trying," my teacher says. But sometimes I can't figure out the words. Sometimes the sentences get stuck in my mouth like peanut butter. Sometimes people giggle when I make a mistake. And I never get a star sticker from my teacher. Not even a smiley face."

Poor Madeline! Reading is not her strong point. In fact, it makes her not want to read at all. She wants a star, she gets Keep Trying hearts. She especially doesn't like reading out loud. It makes her nervous and she makes even more mistakes than when she reads to herself.

She is quick to share her dislike. There is really nothing she likes to read ... NOTHING! Luckily, she meets Mrs. Dimple when her mom takes Madeline to the library on the weekend. Mrs. Dimple is completely aware of the little girl's aversion, but she has a surprise!
Peeking through a nearby door, Madeline is shocked to see kids reading to DOGS!

The big white dog without a reader sports a bright scarf, a knowing look, and exudes comfort. Madeline is nervous and it shows. Bonnie doesn't mind at all. She waits patiently while Madeline works things out. With her turn at reading aloud in class on the horizon, Madeline is keen to get back to Bonnie for more practice. Bonnie is not there. Will she be OK when she has to read on her own? Can she pretend she is reading to Bonnie?

The use of therapy dogs is gaining popularity in many places. Children like Madeline often find the right amount of confidence, a whole lot of comfort and happy success in such a program. Lisa Papp tells her story with sensitivity and understanding for Madeline's plight. Her artwork is filled with expressions of disgust, sadness, frustration, anger, embarrassment, and ultimately quiet joy. Help comes from many places; this is one to be celebrated.

"On Saturday, we go to the library again. Mrs. Dimple is back!
"I got my star!" I tell her. "I want to give it to Bonnie."

Bonnie and Madeline each have a surprise to share.

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