Don't Judge a Book by its Cover by Denise Fleck, Illustrations by Lili Chin
About three times as many households get new pets each year as the number of pets waiting for homes in shelters. Don't Judge a Book by its Cover goes a ways toward explaining that sad phenomenon. It is heartwarming, and might just help sway the tide from shopping to adopting!
As someone who works in an animal shelter, I couldn't help but find some of the ideas simplistic, such as “the shelter dog looks dirty, take him home and give him a bath — now he looks great!” or “older dogs don't chew things up.” But as it’s a book intended for children and young adults this may be the way to teach a new generation that adopting rather than buying from someone who may be adding to the dog/cat overpopulation problem is a priceless gift for the dog and the adopter.
The book also highlights giving senior and sometimes “less adoptable” dogs a home. The protagonist, a young girl, [spoiler alert!] does not buy the adorable puppy she had in mind, but with the guidance of her parents adopts an older black dog who’d been getting overlooked. Of course the big lesson here is don’t judge a dog by its appearance, and don’t predetermine that you can’t find the dog who’ll fit your family in a shelter — go look!
My favorite feature of this book is the explanation pages in the appendix that delve into “Black Dog Syndrome,” great traits of older dogs, and breed discrimination. If every child in America read this book, shelter workers like myself would be talking with an informed, insightful group of adopters in the future.
The illustrations, which are pop-art/cartoon style, are very fun and appeal for the younger crowd. The lessons of the book and the altruistic quality make it fantastic read for shaping the values and attitudes of today’s youth. If you’re looking for a gift for a young person that will keep on giving this may be it!
Megan Mahan lives in Eugene with her boyfriend, Jacob, their adopted yellow Lab Maddie, many saltwater fish, and two miniature Silver Appleyard ducks, Louie and Olive.