Rescue & Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship (Jessica Kensky & Patrick Downes)

Hello, friends! Our book today is is Rescue & Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship, written by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes and illustrated by Scott Magoon, a touching story of two unique best friends.

On a special farm in the countryside, a young black lab named Rescue is worried. He’s failed his seeing-eye dog training, but his trainer gives him hope, suggesting he will likely make a better service dog. In the big city, a girl named Jessica is also worried: after a terrible accident, part of her left leg has been removed, and her right leg is badly injured. She will have to learn how to walk and move all over again using a prosthetic and wheelchair. Both work hard to learn their new skills, and when a Jessica is recommended for a service dog to help her, Rescue is brought in to meet her. The two bond instantly, and Rescue and Jessica learn how to work as a team – Rescue learning additional skills to assist Jessica in her daily life and providing comfort when her right leg needs to be amputated as well; and Jessica making sure that Rescue has a comfortable life filled with as much play, cuddles, and naps as his hard work. Together, the two form an unbreakable bond of friendship that changes both of their lives.

Heartwarming. Based strongly on the experiences of Kensky, a survivor of the Boston Marathon Bombing, and the real-life Rescue, the book’s story focuses on both the practical and emotional bonds formed between service dogs and their owners, as well as the training and work that goes into both recovery from traumatic injury, and the dogs who assist these survivors. It’s well-balanced, providing both an educational crash course in these subjects while also exploring their emotional impact. The illustrations carry this theme through, using shadow and light and excellent attention to detail to create both moods and teaching opportunities in each spread, while providing expressive characters that the audience can engage with easily. The length of this one might make it a better for slightly older bookworms, but JJ and I both enjoyed it. A wonderful introduction to the valuable work of service dogs, and Baby Bookworm approved!

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