This fabulous picture book, “A Dog Wearing Shoes,” by Sangmi Ko, is unbelievably based on a true story. Her niece found a lost dog wearing shoes. After the dog’s owner was found, her niece went on to adopt her own dog. The author has two adopted dogs of her own.
Ko’s love of dogs is readily apparent from the beautifully created illustrations in black and white except for the dog’s shoes – bright splashes of yellow, and other bits of yellow, always relating to the dog. The expressions on the faces of the girl (who finds and rescues the lost dog) and the lost dog are priceless. Every emotion is wonderfully displayed.
The story is simple and sweet. A girl and her mother find a lost dog. Mini, the girl is convinced that the dog didn’t have a home, but the mother cleverly points out that the dog was wearing shoes — a sign that someone loved and cared for the dog. But the dog had no collar.
When the dog is unhappy, Mini decides to take him to the park. The dog is very well trained and can follow all sorts of commands, but when Mini throws a stick for him, he runs away. Bereft, she searches high and low. Finally, they find the dog at the animal shelter and animal control building and bring him home. By that time, Mini has realized that he probably does have a family who misses him and wants him back.
Mini and her mother post yellow posters all over the neighborhood, and the dog’s family does show up, overjoyed to find their lost family member (The girl attired in a yellow shirt). The next scene is the mother and Mini back at the Pet Adoption Center and Animal Control. This time they are there to adopt (and rescue) a dog of their own. And in the last scene, Mini and her own dog have their own splashes of happy, joyful yellow.
There are many messages in this story. There is the theme of sacrifice, which Mini learns by realizing that the lost dog wants her family back, and that Mini must give up the dog for the dog’s happiness (and because it is the right thing to do). Readers will also see the danger of allowing dogs to be anywhere without a leash — like Mini’s lost dog, many dogs run. Yet another message is that there are many wonderful dogs (and cats) waiting in shelters for homes.
Of course the biggest message is that Mini and her mother stopped to rescue a lost dog. Too many people would have driven past a stranded dog. But stopping and saving the life of a dog (or cat) is the right thing to do. It’s what children learn in school — the difference between being a bystander (just watching as the dog runs by) or an upstander (helping catch and rescue the scared, lost animal). And we all want the future generation to be upstanders, not bystanders.
This would be a fabulous gift for children of any age. It’s also a great book for the school library or classrooms. This is a book that has it all — riveting illustrations and a fabulous story.
Please note: this review is based on the final hardcover book provided by Schwartz & Wade, publishers, with the another copy kindly donated to my classroom by the Glassberg family.
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