Review Detail

Kids Fiction 98
Dogs Help Us in Many Ways
Overall rating
 
4.3
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
5.0
A young girl and her mother move to a new apartment in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It's cozy, and the girl is happy playing by herself while her mother works. When the two venture out to the market and storytime at the library, the girl is very uncomfortable meeting other people, crying and seeking comfort from her mother, who is reassuring. The mother takes the girl to an animal shelter, and they pick out Millie, a small dog who is friendly but not overwhelming. Millie settles in to the apartment well, and sleeps next to the girl's bed. Since Millie has to be walked three times a day, the girl meets lots of other people, which becomes less scary as time goes by. Eventually, the family goes to the dog park, and the girl feels confident enough to say hello to another little girl.

Good Points
The illustrations in this are great, and my very favorite one is a rocker recliner in the living room, which is green and has wood spindles on the side; while there wasn't one like this in my house, it was in lots of my friends' houses! What a great blast from the past! There's a vintage feel to many of the illustrations, with a muted gray brown palette that is a reflection of the buildings in the neighborhood.

The little girl in the book is probably not quite school age, which means she would have been very young when the Pandemic hit. There are probably many children who missed a crucial developmental stage of meeting new people and developing relationships, so it makes sense that the girl in the story would rather be alone, and is overwhelmed when she has to meet people. Millie is a great way to have the girl get our into society with some support. There are plenty of books about social anxiety, like Bright's The Worrysaurus and Percival's Ruby's Worry, so this type of discomfort in social settings might be widespread among the preschool crowd.

Of course, dogs make everything better, and Millie does a good job at helping the girl feel more comfortable with other people. Like Papp's Madeline Finn and the Library Dog or Gianferrari's To Dogs, With Love, A Love Letter to the Dogs Who Help Us, Just Like Millie is an excellent book to read to help anxious youngsters think about ways to navigate the world.
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