Picture Book Review: Madeline Finn and the Rescue Dog by Lisa Papp

Cover art by Lisa Papp, published by Old Barn Books, 9th March 2023

The second book in the Madeline Finn series from American illustrator and author Lisa Papp is like a warm hug in book form. It is a perfect book to share with young children and I simply cannot wait to snuggle up and read it to the youngest relative.

Madeline’s dreams come true when she finally persuades her mum to let her have a dog and she is allowed to choose a puppy from the litter of Bonnie, the library dog. Truth be told, the puppy, Star, chooses Madeline rather than the other way round! Lovely librarian, Mrs Dimple, explains to Madeline that there are other ways of finding pets such as rescue dogs and cats, and she inspires Madeline and her mum to visit the local animal shelter. Reflecting on her visit, Madeline realises that the sadness of the animals who await new homes might be explained by a lack of love and being the kind-hearted child that she is, she makes a plan to ensure that every dog and cat feels as loved as Star,

Every page of this story deserves to be lingered over. The illustrations in warm, pastel shades radiate gentleness and care, you can feel the unconditional love that Madeline has for her puppy in every adoring glance and cuddle. The contrast in the expressions and body language of the caged animals on Madeline’s first visit to the shelter compared to the day when the shelter fills with children and books and blankets is heart-meltingly glorious. The story was apparently inspired by a “read to dogs” project at the author’s local library and this incredible, non-judgemental bond between animals and children is certainly reflected in this beautiful book. Quite honestly, the highest praise that I can bestow is that reading it gave me the same feeling as I had when sharing the “Alfie” books by the late, great Shirley Hughes with my children many years ago. The characters and storytelling resonate with the same kindness, wisdom and observation of the joyful details of everyday life. I highly recommend Madeline Finn and the Rescue Dog as a gift for any young child of your acquaintance, for every nursery and early years and Key Stage 1 classroom.

I am most grateful to Old Barn Books for my gifted copy ahead of publication, which will be passed on to my great-niece, who I am sure will adore it.


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