‘Tis the season for gift-giving and for “best of the year” lists. The New York Public Library put 100 terrific titles on their Children’s Books 2012 list, including my pick for Most-Heart-Warming-Non-Fiction-Book: Stay: The True Story of Ten Dogs by Michaela Muntean with photographs by K. C. Bailey and Stephen Kazmierski.
Luciano Anastasini needed a second chance. He was a circus acrobat, from a long line of circus performers, until the day he fell fifty feet from the high wire. His body eventually healed, but he could no longer perform his old routines. He decided to train dogs for a new act, and since he was hoping for a second chance, he chose dogs who needed a second chance as well.
Bowser ended up at the pound because he was always stealing food from his owner’s table. Stick was a stray. Penny spun madly in circles, Cocoa was a digger, Tyke did the opposite of what he was told to do. Luciano took the dogs in and taught them to do fantastic, funny tricks. As the news spread about Luciano’s success with “hopeless” dogs, people brought him more dogs who needed a second chance: E-Z, Meemo, Sammy, Free, and Rowdy. Together Luciano Anastasini and his Pound Puppies have entertained circus crowds across the country. Muntean writes, “Sometimes a dog and a person will find each other at just the right moment – a moment when they need each other more than either could ever imagine.”
Share Stay: The True Story of the Ten Dogs with your kids and discuss how Luciano turned each dog’s “flaw” into a strength in his act (hopefully you can have a wonderful discussion on how our own flaws can become strengths, too.) Because it is the holiday season, consider making a craft that benefits shelter dogs. I love these easy, braided ropes you can make from upcycled old shirts. You’ll teach your kids more than just informational reading skills; you’ll teach them that they can help make the world a better place.