A library dog reading program at her local library inspired award-winning author and illustrator Lisa Papp to create Madeline Finn and the Library Dog, which was published in 2016. The encouraging picture book captured the hearts of young readers, librarians, and dog-lovers everywhere, earning the 2017 Children’s Choice Book Award (for K-2) and landing on 17 state awards lists. It has also become an international sensation and is available in over 15 different languages around the world. If you ask readers why the book is so loved, it’s about Lisa Papp’s adorable story, illustrations, and the patient, cuddly library dog. But it’s mostly about Madeline Finn’s relatable challenge.
In Madeline Finn and the Library Dog, Madeline Finn struggles with the confidence needed to read aloud in the classroom. She accepts help from a librarian and a steadfast library dog named Bonnie, and after building patience and perseverance, she is able to confidently read aloud to her class, nabbing the elusive gold star.
Lisa was eager to create a second Madeline Finn story after learning about the WAGS—Reading to Shelter Animals program, which brings students into a local animal shelter to read to animals. In Madeline Finn and the Shelter Dog, Madeline Finn visits an animal shelter and immediately wonders if anyone plays with the shelter dogs, snuggles with them, or reads to them. Questions lead to answers, and ideas, and soon Madeline Finn and her human and animal community discover that there are lots of ways for small people to help others.
Madeline Finn and the Shelter Dog helped grow an even larger audience for the Madeline Finn books, as young readers continued to fall in love with the adorable pups and relate to Madeline Finn’s challenges and her desire to help. The follow-up title also helped cement Lisa Papp’s books as go-tos for booksellers, educators, and librarians seeking reads packed with good storytelling but also with opportunities for social-emotional learning. When Madeline Finn sees the dogs at the shelter that, unlike her new puppy Star, do not yet have homes, her compassion and empathy drive her to rally her community and give these dogs comfort, company, and support. Madeline Finn discovers just how big a difference she can make – even as a younger member of her community.
With the publication of her third and newest book, Madeline Finn and the Therapy Dog, Lisa Papp plumbs further emotional depths as Madeline Finn trains her puppy Star to become a certified Therapy dog. They train and practice and go through a final assessment at a local retirement community, which offers a peek at the testing processes, the challenges of relating with other people, and the variety of ways therapy dogs help their communities.
Madeline Finn’s compassion, resolve, and maturity also continue to develop in Madeline Finn and the Therapy Dog. Training Star to be a therapy dog requires a great deal of planning and work, and she learns that desire, training, and showing up aren’t the only qualities required. When Madeline Finn tries to connect with a standoffish elderly man at the retirement home, she remembers how patient and accepting library dog Bonnie was with her. She leans on that acceptance and ultimately draws the gentleman out to connect with her and Star.
With each new Madeline Finn title, Lisa Papp’s protagonist evolves, developing more patience, confidence, responsibility, and empathy. Her character growth is something that most young readers can relate to and understand, which makes the journey so inspiring and satisfying. So be sure to add Madeline Finn and the Therapy Dog (September 2020) to your bookshelf this fall, and read it while snuggled up with your little one and your favorite furry friend! It’s a great opportunity for bonding and conversation.