Madeline Finn and the Blessing of the Animals

Peachtree. Sept. 2023. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781682634868.
Gr 1-3–The fourth adventure in this decidedly old-fashioned true-blue series of picture books (Madeline Finn and the Therapy Dog) is a perfect continuation of the life of a gentle, but spirited girl with an affinity for animals. From her striped tights to her Ramona-like bob and rabbit-face shoes, Madeline is a doll in motion from the first page, up early for the Blessing of the Animals. Of course she will take Star, her huggable dog, and Mom suggests Madeline make more leaves (there are garlands around the house) for the animal shelter. Red-haired Mrs. Dimple drops off her pooch, Bonnie, for Madeline to take with her, and when she arrives, there is already a long line of townspeople, old and young, with a range of skin tones, and one using a wheelchair, all with animals. And the definition of animals means a fish in a bowl or two ferrets on leashes, as well as more conventional choices. A woman in a brown robe, likely a Franciscan, blesses each one and empowers Madeline to bless the animals at the shelter. Madeline’s novel way of making sure all the animals are loved leads her right into her mother’s arms for a blessing of her own. There is so much goodness in this little charmer. Children may feel as if they’ve stepped into another time, or a scene out of an old movie and a different United States.
VERDICT To booktalk this one is to make a pitch for kindness, generosity, and love. There are worse ways to build a story hour.

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