★★★★★ Poor Teddy, written by Lisa DePriest and illustrated by Ignacio G., tells the story of a lonely French poodle named Teddy who comes to live at the local animal shelter after being rescued from an abusive home. After food and a proper bath, Teddy begins to act more like himself—but he still can’t seem to find someone to adopt him. Luckily, a shelter volunteer named Lisa takes a shine to him and brings him home one night so her friends can meet him! But when bad weather leads Lisa’s friends to cancel, Teddy gets rewarded with an unexpected sleepover. Lisa’s three other pets get along great with Teddy, which causes her to wonder if there might be more room in their family for him. But Lisa’s husband, Louis, doesn’t think the house needs four pets! Can Lisa and Teddy convince Louis that this sweet dog is just the piece their family is missing?
There’s so much to love about Poor Teddy, which is indisputably an empathetic, emotionally mature, and charmingly illustrated picture book. The story has mass appeal, since many children are drawn to books about furry friends—and rightly so! Not even the staunchest opponent to pets in the home could argue that animals bring joy to our lives, but where this story really shines is in showing how we can bring joy to animals’ lives, too. Poor Teddy does a fantastic job of breaking down the benefits of shelter rescue animals, whose day-to-day routines in the shelters can leave them feeling run-down and depressed. It’s an excellent lesson for children to learn, especially before they grow old enough to care for animals themselves.