Rescue & Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship by J. Kensky & P. Downes
Kensky, Jessica and Patrick Downes. Rescue & Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship. Illustrated by Scott Magoon. Candlewick Press, 2018
There are not many children’s books published about amputation, so a new book is always welcome. Jessica Kensky became a double leg amputee as a result of injuries sustained during the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Rather than writing a children’s book about amputation, she has written an autobiographical work in the form of a picture book. As a result, this is a strange mix of fiction, where readers hear the service dog’s thoughts, and strict adherence to autobiographical detail that is unnecessary in a picture book. For example, Jessica is depicted as a teenager, closer to the real age of the author, rather than as a young child, to whom young readers could more easily relate. Jessica goes through two amputations in the course of the story, reflecting the experience of the author, but this process is unusual for amputees and unnecessarily complicates the story for early readers. The text is also at a reading level that is higher than one would expect in a picture book, so younger children will need an adult to read the book with them.
However, while it has flaws, the book is a comforting and positive story that will give child amputees hope as they see Jessica learn to be active again on her prosthetic legs. Scott Magoon’s simple and realistic illustrations will help children enjoy the dog, Rescue, and his role in Jessica’s healing process. Magoon does a good job depicting the dog in many states: readiness, happiness, resting, helping, playing and swimming.
This book should be included in public and school library collections. It should also be included in hospital library collections, particularly those where children receive amputation care, such as pediatric cancer clinics and prosthetic clinics. It would be of interest to both children undergoing amputations and their families.
Recommended: 3 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: Sean Borle
Sean Borle is a University of Alberta undergraduate student who is an advocate for child health and safety.
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