Reading The Dog in the Dentist Chair, I imagine Peggy Frezon like a reporter, walking around with a microphone in her hand, interviewing the special animals she’s discovered and getting their stories straight from the source, even though cats, dogs, and pigs can’t talk to us with human words. Her careful, loving observation of their personalities, their work, and the relationships they’ve built with their human friends make this the book our animal friends would write for us, if only they had opposable thumbs.
Peggy does an excellent job of blending points of view in each chapter. She helps us see the action from the animal’s point of view, but also from the child’s. The emotions and needs of both children and animals are noted and respected in each account. Peggy’s sympathy shines through the simple prose, inviting her young readers to feel recognized and understood.
I also like two other features of the book. Each chapter ends with fun facts about the animal we’ve just met – how big is he, what does she like to eat and play with, where does he live, what does she look like. The fact list is satisfying to the curious and a subtle reminder that these animals, and all the good things they represent, are real. That sense of happy reality is capped off with an aptly chosen Bible verse – short, sweet, and the perfect final touch. I love the rhythm this builds in each chapter, moving the child reader from curiosity to sympathy to comfort to confirmation, emotionally and spiritually.
The Dog in the Dentist Chair is also valuable for an adult reader. We grown-ups love animals too! But more than that, it’s an inspiring resource for parents, teachers, and care-givers looking for ways to reach and heal the children in their care. The book recounts a diverse array of human situations and needs, and the variety of animals who meet those needs, and the ways they do it, are thought-provoking and encouraging. I can readily imagine a reader finishing this book and going straight to the internet or library to find a local program to connect them with a helpful furry friend just like the ones in this good book.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for this review.