Title: Second Chance: How Adoption Saved a Boy With Autism and His Shelter Dog
Author: Sandra Gerencher
Publisher: Tribute Books
May Contain Spoilers
The timeless tale of a boy (with autism) and his (shelter) dog. Over the past 10 years, author Sandra Gerencher has been on a mission to save dogs from high-kill animal shelters. Her first rescue was P.J., the black and white Pomeranian in the story. She also adopted the orange Pomeranians Shelby and Lil Rascal, and of course, Chance, the big black Rottweiler/German Shepherd mix. All characters in the story are based on Sandra’s real life family. The book is filled with softly blended watercolor photos of her loved ones. Her most significant adoption was her son, Terry. He was considered a special needs child because he was born with a genetic disorder known as Fragile X Syndrome. The disorder can cause many cognitive disorders, such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, mental retardation and depression.
Second Chance was not at all what I was expecting. Based on the title, I thought it would be about a a boy with autism and his dog, but it’s about Chance, a shelter dog instead. Since I enjoy books told from an animal’s point of view, I didn’t mind getting the dog’s perspective on his experiences and confusion over being adopted. I was just expecting more about the difficulties Ryan had gone through to find his forever home.
Chance is adopted from a shelter one day, and taken home to live with a woman, her son, and her three Pomeranians. He is confused and bewildered at first, and wonders what this word is that everyone keeps repeating. What is adoption, and what does it mean? It turns out that many of his new family members have been adopted, including Ryan, who explains the concept to him and how wonderful it is now that they all have a forever home. Even if they are occasionally bad, they will still be loved by their new family.
I thought the premise was interesting, and having the meaning of adoption explored through the eyes of a recently rescued shelter dog made the concept easier to relate to. The illustrations are big and bold, and look like photos that were shopped to look like oil paintings. The images are slightly blurred and lack exact details, which make them distinctive. They have a soft, gentle quality that works well with the tone of the book. Having “rescued” a shelter dog myself, I appreciated getting Chance’s perspective on the subject. I think this picture book is too wordy for very young kids, but should prove informative for a slightly older audience.
Review materials provided by publisher