Everyone needs a second chance at some point in his or her life. Sometimes it happens as an adult, as a result of a bad decision. All too often, though, it happens as a young child through no fault of the child. And it happens to dogs, too.
Second chances are needed by everyone.
Sandra J. Gerencher explores this idea in her book Second chances: How Adoption Saved A Boy with Autism and His Shelter Dog. As the title implies, this book is the story of what adoption means to one small family. This family is Mom, Ryan, and three dogs—PJ, Shelby, and Little Rascal. In the opening pages, the family adds Chance, a shelter dog, to their “pack.” As he sees the unconditional love Ryan has for him, Chance learns what adoption is.
This book is interesting in that it is told from the perspective of Chance the Dog. Ryan’s autism comes into play through his conversations with Chance—it is hinted at that Ryan rarely communicates vocally with people, yet he is able to communicate with Chance. Ryan teaches Chance that it doesn’t matter that he was unloved before, he is special to someone.
While I liked the message of this book—that everyone, no matter what the circumstance of their early life, is special—I found that I was really confused by the book. I looked at this as a book for elementary age children, but it seemed to be written for an older audience. I tried reading it to my 3-year-old and 7-year-old sons and they were both very bored with it. My 9-year-old, who doesn’t like me to read to him anymore, read the book himself. He said he liked the pictures in it, but had a hard time following the story. The book is nicely written; I am just not sure that it hits the intended target audience.
PBS Kids Recommended title
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Sandra J. Gerencher is a special education teacher in the Bangor Area public school system. Prior to becoming a teacher, she worked at Lehigh University in a school-based program, as a Program Specialist for adults with disabilities. Over the past 20 years she has worked with children and adults with special needs in such areas as counseling, Behavior Specialist Consultation, behavioral research, crisis intervention and abuse therapy. Sandra graduated from Lehigh University with a M.Ed. in Special Education (2004) and from Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia with an M.S. in Counseling Psychology (1999).
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